Dr. William Joseph Block died Tuesday with his daughters by his side. He was born in 1918 in Mattoon, Illinois, the son of Archie Carl and May McQuown Block.
He grew up on a farm west of Mattoon and graduated from Mattoon High School in 1936. When he was in Miss Helen Kellar’s third grade at Columbian School, it was reported in the newspaper that County School Superintendent Minter heard him speak to his classmates for over twenty minutes about Abraham Lincoln and observed he was “impressed with the way the lad talked…and the way he connected Lincoln up with Coles County. It was the first time I have ever noticed such a case.” His intellectual curiosity and ability to articulate information was evident even when he was eight years old!
He and Miriam Josephine Preston were married in 1941; they were happily married for almost sixty four years (until her death in 2005).
William Block volunteered in the U.S. Army and attended officers’ candidate school in armor. He served as a tank commander in Okinawa and the Philippines during World War II from 1942 to 1946 with the United States Army, 706 Tank Battalion attached to the 77th Division.
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He returned to Illinois and earned his undergraduate degree with honors from Eastern Illinois University and his Masters’ Degree and his PhD from the University of Illinois. In 1951, he began his career as a professor of Political Science at the Citadel.
In 1957, Dr. William J. Block came to North Carolina State University; he was a professor of Political Science and Public Administration and chairman of the Political Science Department. He started the Masters’ of Public Administration Program and served as chairman of the NCSU Faculty Senate. He was a public administration expert educating and advising countless state employees, elected officials, judges and a former NC governor. As an excellent professor and advisor, he was honored with the school’s first outstanding teacher award. Although he retired in 1984, he continued to advise students for many more years. For years, he wrote a column called “Washington Hearing Aids” for the Agricultural Policy Review and was the author of many USDA Federal Extension Service pamphlets, brochures, and articles. He was a recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. A fellow NCSU professor recently said, “I never hear the phrase ‘the greatest generation’ without (seeing) his image.”
He was an enthusiastic hand ball player until he was in his 80’s; he was a master gardener, rooting and planting hundreds of azaleas and camellias. He enjoyed travelling, especially to towns in Scotland and Germany where his ancestors lived. He was a proud grandfather, attending and photographing his grandchildren’s many activities.
He worked tirelessly on his wife’s five (very successful) City Council campaigns. His wife, the late Miriam Preston Block, served ten years on the Raleigh City Council; they shared an interest and enthusiasm for excellence in local government. He served on the Wake County Board of Adjustment for six years. He was the first president of the A. B. Combs Elementary School P. T. A. and was president of the Cardinal Gibbons High School P. T. A. for several years. He was a life-long Methodist serving as Sunday School superintendent and Sunday School teacher.
He is survived by his daughters Dr. Cheryl J. Block, Carla J. Block, and Christina J. Block Terrell; his sons-in-law Daniel R. Steen and Edward L. Terrell; and his grandchildren Elizabeth J. Terrell, Edwin L. Terrell, and Dr. Patrick McQuown Roberson, his wife Emily and their daughter Margaret Josephine.
The funeral will be 2:00, Saturday, 28 March, at Fairmont United Methodist Church, 2501 Clark Avenue, Raleigh. The family will receive friends in the Fellowship Hall after the service. A service and burial will be at a later date in Mattoon.
Because William Block loved dogs, was a faithful Methodist, and appreciated reading, researching, and learning, memorial contributions may be made to SPCA of Wake County (200 Petfinder Lane, Raleigh, NC 27603), to Fairmont United Methodist Church (2501 Clark Avenue, Raleigh), to the NCSU Friends of the Library (Campus Box 7111, Raleigh, NC 27695-7111), or to Transitions LifeCare (250 Hospice Circle, Raleigh, NC 27607).
Arrangements are under the care of Brown-Wynne Funeral Home 300 Saint Mary's St. Raleigh, NC 27605
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. Yes, says the Spirit, they will rest from their labors for their good works follow after them. –Revelation 14:13