It is with great sorrow that we share the news of the passing of our dear friend, Dick Block. It is extremely difficult to imagine Anchorage Opera without Dick; his immense contributions to AO over the decades have not only helped our company grow & thrive but shaped its very core mission, serving on the AO Board from 2005-2013, as its Treasurer from 2005-2008 & as its President from 2008-2010. He & his beloved wife Diane were true patrons of the arts in Anchorage, generously supporting innumerable AO productions through their Richard L. and Diane M. Block Foundation, helping provide housing for guest artists & ensuring a future legacy for our work through the Anchorage Opera Foundation Endowment which he established some years ago. Both in his service & his philanthropy he was a “hard act to follow”. Reed will miss his “Breakfasts with Dick” and our entire AO Family will miss seeing his smiling face in the Dress Circle of our Saturday night performances at the PAC. We are grateful for the time we had with him on this earth. We send our deepest condolences to his entire family at this difficult time. May his memory be a blessing to his loved ones: we are truly blessed to count ourselves among them.
Richard L Block (June 19, 1937 – August 14, 2021)
Anchorage Daily News Obituary – Aug 26, 2021
Richard Block peacefully transitioned at sunrise on Aug. 14, 2021. He was with family at the time. Dick had many job descriptions: attorney, actor, entrepreneur, bon vivant, world traveler, horrible joke teller, patron of the arts and many other things. Most of all he was a loving husband and father and a lover of Alaska. He was born in Southern California and spent several of his formative years in Napa Valley on a prune farm. Following high school, he attended University of Southern California where he majored in political science, and later received a law degree. Following a short stint with a law firm after graduation, Richard was employed by Insurance Company of North America, the oldest stock insurance company in the United States. He worked there for several years and after a short time, headed the Pacific Employers Group.
During the pipeline days, he took his large family to Alaska for a summer vacation and fell in love with the Great Land. This solidified his next step, and the following year, the family moved to Juneau where Dick became Director of the Division of Insurance under Gov. Jay Hammond. Those were days of fishing and boating, camping with the Boy Scouts and many other joys of living in Southeast Alaska. In 1980, The Blocks moved to Anchorage where Dick and his business partners founded Alaska’s only insurance company, Alaska National Insurance Company. The business which began as a single card table, an IBM Selectric typewriter, our mother as typist and a dream, grew into a company with offices in Alaska, Idaho, Washington, California and Oregon and is considered one of Alaska’s great business success stories.
Richard and Diane also branched out into other areas of interest. They ran Connoisseur Imports, a fine food distributor, and operated Encore and Ovations restaurants and gift shops for many years. Ovations became a favorite of candy and chocolate lovers as well as aficionados of High Tea.
Dick felt Alaska had given him and his family so many opportunities.
As a result, he created the Richard L. and Diane M. Block Foundation which supports social service and arts organizations throughout our great state. Additionally, he could often be seen performing on Alaska stages under the direction of the likes of Bob Pond, Molly Smith and others in performances like Mac-Beth, West Side Story, Black Comedy and Oklahoma! He even played the Queen of Hearts in an Anchorage production of Alice in Wonderland.
Dick’s love of adventure led him to travel around the world and to participate in myriad activities. He was one of the first entrepreneurs in Alaska to do business with the emerging new Russian nation in the ‘90s, helped promote Alaska as an Olympic site, retraced the steps of Paul as he pursued a master’s degree in theology, started a tour business, was a pilot, an active member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, a ham radio operator and he always had an awful joke or pun to share with his kids.
Richard was also a devout lifelong follower of Christian Science. A member of First Church of Christ Science in Anchorage, Dick often served on boards and committees, as well as being one of the church’s readers. In more recent years, he started a Christian Science Nursing organization in Alaska and began work as a Christian Science Practitioner.
Richard began a successful multifamily real estate company and despite being well past the age most retire, Dick went to work every day. He loved working and was proud of his efforts to create jobs, help people and foster the arts in Alaska.
But he was most proud of his wife, who precedes him, his six children, who succeed him, and a baker’s dozen of grandkids who are all doing phenomenal work throughout the world. He is also preceded by his younger brother and survived by his younger sister.
We will miss our father, but are excited to see how the seeds he planted will continue to grow, bear fruit and help others in Alaska. We know that whatever entrepreneurial venture he is working on now will keep him busy and engaged in good work.
Our family requests that, in lieu of flowers or other expressions, those who wish to, will contribute to the Anchorage Opera Foundation Endowment Richard started some years ago, or to the Alaska Red Cross, one of many organizations Dick supported.
To make a gift in memory of Richard L Block
ONLINE: CLICK HERE
BY MAIL: please send a check payable to the Anchorage Opera Foundation (with Permanent Endowment in memory of Richard L Block the memo line) to:
1507 Spar Ave
Anchorage, AK 99501