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co-founder of H&R Block
Henry Wollman Bloch was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on July 30, 1922, the second son of a prominent lawyer. After completing his basic education at Southwest High School, he attended the University of Missouri and then the University of Michigan until being drafted into the U.S. Army Air Corps. After completing 32 missions as a navigator during World War II, the Air Corps sent him to the Harvard Business School, and it was there that Bloch decided his future lay with helping small businesses.
After graduating in 1946, Bloch became a stockbroker in Kansas City. That job failed to satisfy him, however, and he and his brother Leon formed thr United Business Company later that same year. Specializing in providing advertising, bookkeeping, accounting, and other financial services to small businesses, the company struggled to make a profit during its first year. Leon decided to leave and pursue a law career, but Henry was determined to make the business work. A job doing bookkeeping for the owner of a hamburger stand began his climb to success, and Henry soon realized he needed help; his brother Richard joined the company at this time.
The Blochs initially focused primarily on bookkeeping services, providing tax preparation only as a courtesy to a few select customers and friends, but that changed after a customer suggested they advertise their tax preparation services in the Kansas City Star. Their first ad ran in January 1955, coincidentally appearing at the same time Kansas Citians learned that the Internal Revenue Service would no longer provide free tax return help. Not surprisingly, business boomed immediately, and the Blochs quickly decided to specialize in preparing tax returns. H&R Block was incorporated on July 25, 1955; the brothers changed the spelling to "Block" to make it easier for people to remember. By 1956 the company had grown to include seven offices in New York City, and was selling franchises by 1957. H&R Block went public on February 13, 1962, and it has continued to grow since.
Henry and Richard continued to maintain joint control over H&R Bloch until Richard sold his in 1982, after a long battle with cancer. Henry still lives in Kansas City and, even at the age of 91, continues to take part in corporate decisions. He also remains very active in the Kansas City business and cultural communities.
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This page was last updated on September 24, 2017.