The first in an occasional series of reports from Stephen when he’s traveling to film segments for the show.
While in Kansas City filming Steven Holl’s addition to the Nelson-Atkins Museum, called the Bloch Building, I had the chance to interview Henry Bloch. At the time, I didn’t realize that was Mr. Bloch of H&R Block — as in the “world’s largest tax services provider.”
“B-L-O-C-H,” I spelled out. “Isn’t that spelled differently?”
He laughed. Mr. Bloch explained that when he first started his company over 50 years ago, people pronounced it “B-L-O-T-C-H,” and that just wasn’t going to work. So he opted for “B-L-O-C-K.” I guess it was the right decision. H&R Block now runs a vast web of more than 10,000 retail locations and 100,000 tax professionals. But you would never be able to tell from speaking with him. Mr. Bloch was so self-effacing and humble. While he was proud to have his name adorn the new building, he seemed a little embarrassed by all the fuss.
I asked him how he spent his time since stepping down as CEO. He told me he was as busy as ever — but instead of running a company, he was dedicated to philanthropy. Both he and his wife, Marion, focused on three things: the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and St. Luke’s Hospital.
Mr. Bloch said that it was more important to give to the city of Kansas City and its citizens than even his own family — because it was the city that helped him create his company. In 2011, he and his wife established the Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation to continue their philanthropic legacy. The foundation builds on their vision and values to improve the quality of life in the Kansas City area through thoughtful, innovative, and responsible philanthropy.
We ended our chat with Mr. Bloch asking me if I liked Denver.
“Huh? Denver? Why?” I responded.
“Because the Chiefs are playing them tonight. I hope you are rooting for Kansas City,” he said, smiling.
From the football team to the hospital, to the business school, to the art museum, Mr. Bloch always supports the home team.