Block, Henry J. (1926-2015)

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Henry John "Hank" Block: churchman, businessman, and philanthropist; born 28 May 1926 in Borden, Saskatchewan, to John H. Block (10 August 1899, Gerhardsthal, Chernoglas, South Russia - 16 August 1969, Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada) and Helen (Sawatzky) Block (2 January 1903, Alexanderheim, Wiesenfeld, South Russia - 2 November 1982, Clearbrook, British Columbia). He was the second of seven children. Henry married Katherine Braun, daughter of Johann P. Braun and Maria (Schulz) Braun, on 28 September 1946 in Arnold, British Columbia. Henry and Kay had four children. Henry died on 7 October 2015 in Surrey, British Columbia.

In 1936 the Block family moved to Yarrow, British Columbia, where Henry attended the Elim Bible School for one year. He was baptized and joined the Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Church in 1944.

It became evident from his earliest years that Henry was blessed with an entrepreneurial mind. Some of his first business ventures included establishing a cartage company and selling automobiles, and by age 19, he began to develop an interest in real estate.

In 1955, at the age of 29, Henry and his younger brother Arthur formed a partnership and opened their own sales office. Over the next 23 years, Block Brothers Reality became one of the most successful companies in Canada. The three Beach Towers in west-end Vancouver built by Block Brothers were among the first residential high-rises in Vancouver.

Henry was active in various Christian ministries. The Ambassador Quartet and his rich bass voice inspired a generation of Vancouverites with the Sunday evening Lighthouse of Hope radio program. As a close associate of both evangelist Terry Winter and Marvin Kehler of Campus Crusade, Henry supported and became personally involved in a variety of evangelistic ministries, traveling widely with the Jesus Film. To visually illustrate his Christian faith, Henry commissioned an Italian artist to sculpt 22 life-sized tableaus featuring biblical scenes, which were set on a four-acre parcel of land at his 108 Mile property in British Columbia’s Cariboo region. In his later years he was a member of the Peace Portal Alliance Church in Surrey, British Columbia.

Henry’s final years were marked by a courageous struggle with Parkinson’s Disease, resulting in generous support for research conducted by Parkinson Society British Columbia. In recognition of his contributions, Henry was honoured with a Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013. Moreover, his diverse community work was recognized by Trinity Western University by awarding him with an honorary doctorate degree.

Author(s) David Giesbrecht
Date Published November 2016

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MLA style

Giesbrecht, David. "Block, Henry J. (1926-2015)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. November 2016. Web. 23 Sep 2020.,_Henry_J._(1926-2015)&oldid=155802.

APA style

Giesbrecht, David. (November 2016). Block, Henry J. (1926-2015). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 September 2020, from,_Henry_J._(1926-2015)&oldid=155802.

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