Tax preparation pioneer Henry Bloch dies at 96

Just a week after Tax Day, tax preparation pioneer Henry Bloch has died at the age of 96. The Kansas City entrepreneur and philanthropist died peacefully around family, his four children announced Tuesday.

Bloch co-founded H&R Block in 1955 with his brother, Richard.

“Our father was a great and deeply loved man. Although most people knew Henry Bloch as a tremendous entrepreneur and philanthropist, we will remember him as a devoted father, grandfather and great-grandfather,” Bloch’s children wrote. “Our Dad was passionate about his family and his community, and he will long be remembered for his benevolence, humility and fortitude.”

Brothers Richard (left) and Henry Bloch founded their tax services company in Kansas City in 1955. | Courtesy of H&R Block

Born July 30, 1922, Bloch would go on to earn a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. He served in the Army Corps during World War II, flying combat missions over Germany. He then returned to Kansas City to open a storefront on Main Street in 1945. Bloch and his other brother, Leon, founded United Business Company to provide bookkeeping and other services to local small businesses, the family wrote in a press release.

Ten years later, Bloch and Richard started H&R Block after an advertising representative with The Kansas City Star encouraged them to continue offering tax preparation services.

The brothers placed two advertisements in the newspaper offering federal and state income tax preparation for $5.

H&R Block’s impact would eventually extend beyond Main Street and reach the households of Americans across the country who needed help navigating the tax system.

Bloch served as president of the company from 1962 until 1988 and was chief executive officer from 1974 to 1992. Following his retirement, Bloch focused efforts on the Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation, the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Saint Luke’s Hospital and the H&R Block Foundation.

Bloch held eight honorary degrees and served on more than 50 corporate and nonprofit boards, including the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. He received more than 50 awards recognizing his contributions to entrepreneurship and philanthropy.

He is preceded in death by his wife, Marion, and brothers Richard and Leon. He is survived by his four children, 12 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.

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