The public is invited to attend a memorial service in the Atkins Auditorium at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art on Monday, April 29, 2019, at 1:30 p.m. The memorial will also be live-streamed via Facebook Live on the Nelson-Atkins’ Facebook page.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to:
Henry W. Bloch School of Management at UMKC, 5110 Cherry Street, Kansas City, MO 64110
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 4525 Oak Street, Kansas City, Missouri, 64111
St. Luke’s Marion Bloch Neuroscience Institute, 901 E. 104th Street, Kansas City, Missouri, 64131
Online condolences for the family may be left at rememberinghenrybloch.com.
Henry Wollman Bloch, 96, passed away peacefully on April 23, 2019, in Kansas City. A deeply loved man who was passionate about his family and his community, he will long be remembered for his benevolence, humility, and fortitude. Henry achieved the American Dream by pioneering an industry and then went on to become an extraordinary humanitarian. He gave his best, and the best came back to him.
The second of three sons of Hortense and Leon Bloch, Henry was born on July 30, 1922, in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from Southwest High School in Kansas City and the University of Michigan. A member of the 95th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force, Henry served as a navigator on a B-17 during World War II. His tour of duty included 32 combat missions in Europe for which he earned the Air Medal and three Oak Leaf Clusters for meritorious service. His unit received a Presidential Citation for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy.
After the War, Henry teamed up with his older brother Leon to offer a range of services to the smallest of small businesses. But the journey of their United Business Company was so slow-going that Henry couldn’t blame Leon for leaving after a few months. Persistence and focus paid off for Henry as he eventually secured a few bookkeeping accounts. It wasn’t long before he took on a new partner, his younger brother Richard (Dick).
In 1955, thanks to a mixture of hard work and luck, Henry and Dick transitioned from bookkeeping to income tax preparation and renamed their new venture H&R Block. Two years later, with 17 offices in three states, the Bloch’s proudly rolled out the slogan, “Nation’s Largest Income Tax Service.” Over the course of more than 50 years, H&R Block grew to become the largest commercial tax preparation firm in the world, with a vast web of more than 10,000 outlets and 100,000 associates.
During his many decades at the helm of H&R Block, Henry was America’s tax man. He had started, nurtured, developed, expanded, and diversified one of America’s top brands. Henry was also one of the most admired and recognizable CEOs in the country. Yet he never lost the selfless and unassuming nature that made him an uncommon corporate icon. Henry once said, “I always wanted to do something different, something more than just a job, something to contribute to society.”
Henry married the love of his life, Marion Helzberg, on June 16, 1951. The couple enjoyed a storybook marriage for 62 years until Marion passed away at age 83 in 2013. Twenty-five years earlier, at age 58, Marion began a courageous battle with brain cancer. She never complained and bravely endured, thanks to Henry’s continuous and intensely compassionate care. A close friend described their marriage this way: “There’s no question about. It was one of a kind. Nothing was missing.” Henry gave Marion all the credit. “She was a great woman, a wonderful wife and magnificent mother. Marion always made me so happy. She was perfect.”
Family always came first for Henry and Marion. They will be forever remembered by their four devoted children: Robert Bloch (Barbara), Thomas Bloch (Mary), Mary Jo Brown (Robert), and Elizabeth Uhlmann (Paul). He also leaves behind twelve loving grandchildren: Brian Bloch (Allison), Nicholas Bloch, Chase Bloch, Benjamin Bloch, Lynne Greenstein, Timothy Brown (Rebecca), Allison Gershon (Brad), Jason Bloch (Emma), Edward Bloch (Lauren), Lauren Blazar (Aaron), Emily Fehsenfeld (Wesley), and James Uhlmann. Henry treasured his nineteen great-grandchildren: Zachary and Charles Greenstein; Henry, George, and Arthur Brown; Macy, Charlotte, and Harrison Bloch; Thomas, Marion, Elle and Liv Gershon; Sophie, William and Benton Blazer; Caro and Patton Fehsenfeld; and Caleb and Lila Bloch.
Henry was at the forefront of countless civic and philanthropic initiatives in Greater Kansas City. In particular, his personal philanthropic legacy includes generous support of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and Saint Luke’s Hospital. Thanks in large part to Henry’s benevolence, the Henry W. Bloch School of Management is becoming Kansas City’s school of choice for undergraduate, graduate and professional business education. At Saint Luke’s, Henry established the nationally acclaimed Marion Bloch Neuroscience Institute in memory of his beloved wife. And at The Nelson, future generations will enjoy the Bloch Building as well as Marion and Henry’s personal collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, which once was one of the finest private collections of its type in the world, in the Bloch Galleries.
In 2012, the couple formed the Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation, now one of the largest family foundations in the region. Focused on the Kansas City metropolitan area, the Foundation will forever build on Marion and Henry’s vision and values to improve the quality of life in their hometown.
The family appreciates the wonderful people who gave magnificent care to Henry, including physician and nephew John Helzberg, his primary caregivers, and the medical professionals at Saint Luke’s Hospital.