Celebrating a Legendary Leader

UMKC honors champion and supporter Henry Bloch

The University of Missouri-Kansas City is celebrating the extraordinary life and unprecedented contributions of Kansas City entrepreneur and philanthropist Henry W. Bloch (1922-2019).

Bloch was the retired chairman of H&R Block, a tax-preparation company which he founded with his brother, Richard, in 1955. A quintessential entrepreneur, Bloch worked tirelessly — toiling over tax returns as his first child, Robert, was being born — and deftly responded to shifts in the market, developing H&R Block into the largest commercial tax preparation firm in the world.

A native Kansas Citian, Bloch was a devoted champion and supporter of the city and the University of Missouri-Kansas City, which he attended when it was the University of Kansas City. He later graduated from the University of Michigan after serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.

Bloch enlisted in the Air Corps following Pearl Harbor. A navigator on B-17s, Bloch flew 32 combat missions, primarily over Germany, including three missions on D-Day.

He noted in the book about his service, “Navigating a Life: Henry Bloch in World War II” by John Herron, associate dean of the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences, that “despite the outlook for the Allied forces, he remained optimistic and never wavered about his ability to have an impact on the conflict.”

“I never knew what the next day would bring, but I figured I had a job to do and I would give it my all,” Bloch said.

He was awarded the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters for his wartime service.

Henry’s son, Tom Bloch, is the author of “Many Happy Returns: the Story of Henry Bloch, America’s Tax Man.” Tom Bloch is a UMKC trustee and chairman of the board of the UMKC Foundation. He recognized his father’s commitment to Kansas City and the university.

“As soon as he was successful, he started giving back,” said Tom. His father was committed to supporting the city that had supported him and his brother since the birth of their business.

“I have a debt to the people of Kansas City,” Henry Bloch said. “Everything I have — I’d have nothing without the people of Kansas City. That’s my biggest thing I like to do — help people in Kansas City.”

“Henry Bloch has inspired me to become an innovator — someone who looks for how to make the world a better place through business. He inspires me to become someone who makes a difference and gives back, so others can not only do the same, but better.” 
– Daphne Posadas, business major

Henry Bloch, a former trustee of UMKC, is the largest donor in the university’s history. He endowed the Henry W. Bloch School of Business in 1986, and provided the funds to build a state-of-the-art building that would encourage collaboration, interaction and the spirit of vibrant business and entrepreneurship. The Bloch School is one of three legacy organizations of the Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation along with the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City.

Focused on advancing educational opportunities for a broad range of students, Bloch committed $50 million to support scholarships to UMKC alone. His latest gift targeted promising students from urban neighborhoods who are shut out from other school opportunities.

Chancellor Mauli Agrawal celebrated Bloch’s contributions to UMKC and the students who will flourish with his help.

“I do know that my career will be focused on giving back to this community. That is the example that the Bloch family has set, through this program, and so many other acts of generosity. That example made my journey possible, and it inspires me.” 

-Brian Ramirez, Bloch Scholar, health sciences major

“In Tom Bloch’s book, he quotes Henry describing what Henry called the culture of “and then some.”

‘The person who succeeds is the one who does his or her own job, and then some; who is thoughtful to others, and then some; who meets obligations and responsibilities, and then some. That’s the person who steps ahead of the crowd and goes on to great heights.’”

Henry Bloch’s legacy will be a reflection of his dedication to the people he loved and the organizations to which he was committed.

In a collection of birthday wishes on the occasion of Bloch’s 90th birthday, several friends and colleagues quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson, “An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man.” Bloch cast his shadow on many Kansas City institutions. UMKC is fortunate to have received the benefit of his wisdom, spirit, dedication and support.  We are proud to carry the mantle of his legacy, which will continue to inspire our current and future students.

Read more about Henry Bloch’s legacy from H&R Block and the Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation.

Honoring Henry Bloch

Henry W. Bloch dedicated his spirit, energy and time to the work of UMKC. The university awarded him eight times during his years with us.

Chancellor’s Medal Award, 1980; Entrepreneur of the Year (with Richard Bloch), 1986; Presidential Citation of Service, 1992; Top 100 Innovators and Benefactors, Perspectives Magazine, 2000; Entrepreneur of the Year, 2005; Legacy Award, 2007; UMKC Foundation Award of Distinction, 2013; Bloch Hall of Fame, 2014