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H&R Block founder Henry Bloch dies at age 96

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A legendary Kansas City businessman has died.

H&R Block announced Tuesday that founder Henry Bloch died at the age of 96 peacefully in his sleep surrounded by family.

"Today we mourn the passing of our founder and friend, Henry Bloch," the company announced. "Henry was not only the “H” in H&R Block … he was the heart of it, and he will be missed."

Henry Bloch

Bloch was born in Kansas City and attended Southwest High School. He went on to attend the University of Kansas City, which is now referred to as UMKC. After graduating, Bloch joined the Army and served in WWII. During that time he began brain storming with his brothers about a business.

According to RememberingHenryBloch.com, Bloch's idea to create a business that helps small businesses came while he was studying at Harvard after WWII.

He believed, "Big business and labor were both very powerful, but small business really had no one to turn to. And, small business was really the backbone of this country. The future would be in helping small business."

That eventually turned into H&R Block.

Bloch served on the board of St. Luke’s Hospital and donated $25 million for the world class St. Luke’s Marion Bloch Neuroscience Institute.

Bloch’s influence also reached into the arts and education.

“Henry has been both an inspiration and also one of the most caring and fascinating pillars of Kansas City society,” said Julian Zugazagoitia, Director and CEO of The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art.

Zugazagoitia has many fond memories of the larger than life character who was very involved in every project. Bloch would check on the renovation often and Zugazagoitia remembers returning from vacation while Bloch was there.

“He was like, ‘Oh, let me show you then how much progress we have made’. So he showed me how much progress we made in the two weeks I had been away,” said Zugazagoitia. “So it was just lovely how much he cared and how much presence he had and still has at this institution.”

Bloch showed that same involvement with the students at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at UMKC. The entrepreneur met once a year with scholarship recipients and took an interest in all of the students benefiting from the program bearing his name.

“They would be in a golf cart as they were escorting him around campus. And he would ask them questions about their family, their background their goals,” said Dean Brian Klaas. “Then three or four months after they would meet Henry and he would ask them what progress they had made and where they were going.”

No doubt Bloch’s financial contribution has made a massive impact on the future of Kansas City. His true legacy is the care and interest he took as a man who loved Kansas City and the people who call it home.

“He emphasized the importance of working hard, taking risks, flying right and helping others,” Kloss said.

Zugazagoitia agrees. “There is nothing better than having a leader that puts wings in your sales and that was a joy. Working with him was a joy.”

Bloch’s funeral will be a private affair. The public is invited to attend a memorial service at The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, April 29 at 1:30 p.m.

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