Robert Jackson Block (1922 – 1996)
Described once by a friend as “the yeast in Seattle’s dough”, Robert Block was an activist’s activist whose strong opinions and bold ideas helped propel the city toward Century 21 from the 20th Century. Along the way, he helped guide the first bond issue that authorized the city to buy the land for the Seattle Center and site of the 1962 World’s Fair, helped found Allied Arts of Seattle, chaired and directed Cornish College of the Arts, was founding trustee of Pilchuck Glass School, chaired the Puget Sound chapter of the National Foundation for the March of Dimes and the Metro Campaign Committee, and was a board member of the Seattle Public Library Foundation.
Mr. Block was born and raised in Seattle, and attended the University of Washington. After serving in WWII, he returned to the city, became an investment banker and founded National Securities Corporation, a discount brokerage firm where he served as chairman and CEO until retiring in 1993.
In 1967, Robert Block ran unsuccessfully for seats on the Seattle Port Commission and Seattle City Council, but he also managed to find the time to successfully launch Allied Arts Foundation as a platform of support for its sister advocacy organization and for the arts community in general.
He accomplished all the above and much more while battling serious ongoing respiratory problems, complications resulting from a long bout with polio, and he succumbed eventually from a related stroke. Those who knew him will remember Bob’s brusque delivery, his devotion to Seattle, to politics, and to spirited debate. We are all beneficiaries of his legacy.