It is well known that the American Midwest has a great participation of Jewish people in a lot of areas and spaces. From Illinois, which is the city with the largest Jewish community with more than 300.000 Jews, to South Dakota, which has less than 1.000 Jews, the Midwest region is a great place for the development of different Jewish interests and needs.
In previous posts, we have talked about some notable Jews both in Illinois and other Midwest cities, which have created amazing businesses and industries. In this opportunity, we will talk about the Bloch brothers, who were the founders of H&R Block, one of the most important financial organizations in the United States and the world, and very important businessmen in Kansas City, Missouri.
Related: The Consulate General of the State of Israel for the Midwest Region by Yosef Meystel
The Bloch brothers
Henry and Richard Bloch were born in Kansas in 1922 and 1926 respectively, founding in 1955 H&R Block, after each one of them graduated from the university. Henry studied business and administration at the University of Missouri–Kansas City and Richard obtained a science degree in economic at the Wharton School.
Currently, Henry Bloch is the chairman emeritus for the company he co-founded, leading this corporation without his youngest brother and co-founder, Richard, who died in 2004 after a heart failure.
H&R Block is a tax preparation organization, which means tax returns from income taxes, in other words, this company works with the compensation that any business could get through the income taxes it receives. This process could be done with a licensed professional or a specialized software. Currently, H&R Block offers its services for managing this to multiple companies, from any industry and any size. This firm is present not only in the United States but also in Australia, Brazil, and India, making it a global organization.
H&R Blocks has three principal branches, which are Retail, Digital, and Bank. The Retail area is focused on the tax returns for the retail companies, that is to say, that H&R Block helps these businesses for the compensation of their taxes, reaching more than $20 billion dollars per year.
The Digital area offers a technological tool for the taxes management. In other words, H&R Block provides to their clients a specialized tax software to deal with all the taxes responsibilities and requirements they could need.
The Bank area offers low-cost bank services to those customers that have moderate incomes, giving to them the opportunity and the possibility to access to multiple services, like credits, checks, among other solutions.
In 2015, the company had incomes for more than $400 million dollars and revenues for more than $3 billion dollars. Today, H&R Block has more than 2.000 employees in the mentioned countries to serve the world market.
The Bloch brothers were not only great businessmen but also very important philanthropists for Kansas City. They sponsored and financed multiple causes for helping the community, especially in financial and medical areas.
Besides their huge tax business, Richard founded the R. A. Bloch Cancer Foundation, the Cancer Hotline and the R. A. Bloch Cancer Support Center at the University of Missouri–Kansas City, due to the fight he had against a terminal lung cancer for more than five years. Currently, these institutions have saved the life of more than 15 million of Americans from different cancer types and had taught to multiple patients and their families how to deal with these challenging situations.
In addition, Richard wrote three books for teaching about cancer and how to face it. In 1981, one year later he defeated cancer, Richard published Cancer… There is a hope. Four years later, he authored Fighting Cancer: A Step-by-Step Guide to Helping Yourself Fight Cancer and in 1992, wrote Guide for Cancer Supporters: Step-by-step Ways to Help a Relative or Friend Fight Cancer.
Prizes and honors
The Bloch brothers have been very important for the Kansas City history, contributing to multiple causes, due to this, they have been honored with different awards and distinctions.
Currently, Henry has diverse honors, like the Henry Wollman Bloch Fountain in front of Kansas City’s Union Station and the Henry Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Furthermore, one of the buildings in the Kansas City’s Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art has his name and in 2001, he was inducted into the United States Business Hall of Fame.
On the other hand, Richard has been awarded for his multiple contributions fighting cancer. In 1994, he received the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Public Service Award and a year later, the Layman’s Award from the Society of Surgical Oncology. Moreover, Richard was a very significant part of the National Cancer Advisory Board from 1982 to 1988, also was a vital associate for the President’s Circle of the National Academy of Sciences, among other important medical institutions, like the Institute of Medicine, and the National Institutes of Health Office of Alternative Medicine.