A Conversation with Henry Bloch

The chairman emeritus of  H&R Block discusses how the entrepreneurial start-up he and  his brother Richard co-founded in Kansas City in 1955 grew to become the world’s largest tax services company
Thursday, June 11, 2009
8:30pm @ Central Library

To mark the grand opening of the H&R Block Business and Career Center at the Central Library, join us for a public conversation with Henry W. Bloch, co-founder and chairman emeritus of H&R Block. Conducted by Crosby Kemper III, director of the Kansas City Public Library, the program takes place on Thursday, June 11, at the Central Library at 6:30 p.m.

Bloch will discuss how the entrepreneurial start-up he and his brother Richard founded in  Kansas City in 1955 grew to become the world’s largest tax services company, a publicly-traded corporation that in 2008 served 23.5 million clients at more than 13,000 U.S. retail offices and through its digital tax solutions.

During the course of the conversation, Bloch will touch on many of the highs (and lows) of his storied career as one of Kansas City’s most successful entrepreneurs. Among these include the early struggling days of his predecessor firm in the late 1940s called United Business Company that offered bookkeeping and other services to small businesses; the unanticipated effect of an advertisement in The Kansas City Star in January 1955 that uncovered the overwhelming need for tax preparation services; the decision to rename the company H&R Block; the unlikely birth of the H&R Block franchise network in New York; Henry Bloch’s role as a consummate television spokesman that made the company one of the most recognized brands in American business; and how the company faced the challenges brought on by the diagnosis that brother Richard Bloch had terminal lung cancer.

Henry Bloch was born July 30, 1922, the second son of a prominent Kansas City lawyer. He attended Southwest High School, began his college career at the University of Kansas City, and later transferred to the University of Michigan, from which he graduated in 1944. During World War II, Bloch served in the U.S. Eighth Air Force as a navigator on B-17 bombers and flew 31 combat missions over Germany. He was awarded the Air Medal and three Oak Leaf Clusters.

Today, Henry Bloch is widely known as a businessman, civic leader, and supporter of the arts and education who works to improve the quality of life in Kansas City. A generous gift to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art from Henry and Marion Bloch created the Bloch Building, which houses the museum’s contemporary and African art as well as photography and special exhibits, and increased the museum’s capacity by 55 percent. His generosity also created the Henry W. Bloch School of Business and Public Administration at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

The H&R Block Business and Career Center at the Central Library is made possible through the generous support of H&R Block and the H&R Block Foundation.

Admission to A Conversation with Henry Bloch is free.  A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. Click here or call 816.701.3407 to RSVP. Free parking is available in the Library District Parking Garage located at 10th and Baltimore.

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