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William Theodore "WT" Block, Jr.

Male 1920 - 2007  (87 years)


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  • Name William Theodore "WT" Block 
    Suffix Jr. 
    Born Jul 29, 1920  Port Neches, Jefferson county, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died Dec 2007 
    Notes 
    • He got his masters degree in history from Lamar University.  He was Nederland's assistant postmaster and postmaster for 25 years and a prolific writer of historical articles about East Texas.
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      Obituary:
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      William Theodore Block, Jr.
      7/29/1920 -  12/15/200
      William Theodore Block, Jr., age 87, known as “W.T.” or “Bill” to his friends, passed away at Christus St. Mary Hospital on Saturday, December 15, 2007. He was born in Port Neches on July 29, 1935. He grew up on his father’s farm, which is currently the land occupied by Oak Bluff Memorial Cemetery.
      He graduated from Nederland High School, Cheniers Business College, and Lamar University with an MA degree in history. He also served 3 years in the U.S. Naval Reserve, and taught at Lamar for 2 years as a teaching fellow.
      During World War II, he served from 1942-1946 in the 78th Infantry Division, earning 3 battle stars for the Battles of the Bulge, Rhineland, and Central Europe. After the war, he worked 31 years for the Postal Service, including 20 years as assistant postmaster and postmaster in Nederland, or as officer-in-charge in Orange. Later he served on the Lamar University staff for 11 years, retiring in 1981.
      Mr. Block was a dedicated historian, publishing 9 books of East Texas history, many academic articles in historical journals, and he was a guest columnist for Beaumont Enterprise for many years. He was a member of First United Methodist Church in Nederland, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Texas Gulf Historical Society. He was also a Knight of the Royal Order of Orange-Nassau, a knighthood conferred on him by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. He had also been a ham radio operator for 32 uears, and served several years as an assistant scoutmaster.
      He was predeceased by his parents, and by Betty, his first wife of 45 years. He is survived by his wife Helga; 3 sons, W.T. Block III and wife Carolyn of Friendswood; Bobby G. Block of Wichita, KS., and Barry W. Block and wife Kathy of Elgin, Texas; 1 daughter, Rebecca and husband Lee Chastant of Nederland; stepson, Ricki Woods and wife Gay of Post Neches; stepdaughter, Elsie Schu and husband Frank of Oglesby;p 8 grandchildren; 7 step grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren; 2 sisters, Alta Fletcher of Nederland, Mary Lou Tullos of Houston, also many nieces and nephews.
      Funeral services will be 10:00 AM Wednesday, December 19, 2007 at Broussard’s in Nederland with Reverend Malcom Monroe, and Reverend David Bass officiating. Interment and military graveside services will follow at Oak Bluff Memorial Park in Port Neches. A gathering of family and friends will be from 5 to 8 PM Tuesday at the mortuary.
      http://www.broussardsmortuary.com/services.asp?page=odetail&id=4026
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      Noted local historian, former postmaster W.T. Block dies at 87
      Southeast Texas' most faithful chronicler has entered the history he long made a passion of recording.
      W.T. Block, dubbed by a colleague "the dean of Southeast Texas history," died Dec. 15. He was 87.
      Block dedicated his life to researching and recording the region's history, said Robert Schaadt, director/archivist of the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center in Liberty.
      "Mr. Block, he wrote more Southeast Texas history than anybody, beginning to end," Schaadt said. "His record will probably never be surpassed."
      Author of many books, some published and some not, Block will long be remembered for three in particular, Schaadt said: "A History of Jefferson County, Texas From Wilderness to Reconstruction," "East Texas Mill Towns and Ghost Towns" and "Sour Lake, Texas: From Mud Baths to Millionaires."
      A Port Neches native, he was born William Theodore Block Jr. on a farm where he grew up helping his father tend the crops and livestock.
      Besides his military service in World War II, Block never lived anywhere but Port Neches and Nederland, according to Enterprise archives.
      Block served in the U.S. Army's 78th Infantry Division and fought in the Battle of the Bulge.
      When he returned from overseas, he went to work in the Nederland Post Office, taking up the cause of residential delivery for the city of 4,000 people.
      He was later appointed post master.
      He retired as post master of Orange in 1973, then went on to a second career as director of the Lamar campus post office, finally retiring from there in 1983.
      Block met and married his first wife, Elisabeth "Betty" Kothe, in Germany in 1947.
      The couple had three sons and a daughter.
      Several years after her death in 1992, Block married Helga Woods.
      A hankering for higher education led him to his true calling as a historian.
      Block enrolled to study history at Lamar University in January 1964 and graduated six years later with high honors, despite the fact that he continued to work full time at the post office.
      He went on to earn a master's degree.
      For his thesis, he wrote a Jefferson County history he self-published, selling 800 copies in six months.
      "That's the book that got me started," he told The Enterprise in a 1996 profile.
      Block said he didn't write the thesis just to get a piece of paper; he was genuinely appalled by the lack of local written history.
      Over the years, Block wrote for many publications, including The Enterprise, the East Texas Historical Journal, Yellowed Pages,True West and Old West magazines.
      Friends said Block believed that history was important to people.
      "I think everyone ought to know two or three generations of lineage," Block said in 1996.
      "He was very dedicated, very personable, and always willing to share his research with anyone who asked - that's very unusual," Schaadt said.
      Schaadt said that despite his overwhelming contributions to the academic community, Block was very humble about his accomplishments.
      He was also reticent about his military service.
      "He was one of the unsung heroes of the Battle of the Bulge," Schaadt said. "He was in some of the thickest fighting. I had known him 15 years before I found that out accidentally."
      Schaadt said that when he asked Block about it, Block just smiled.
      "He was very modest," Schaadt said.
      Schaadt said that besides being the go-to man for area historians struggling with the missing puzzle pieces of history, Block was a kind and thoughtful friend.
      "We lost a colleague and a friend and we've lost the dean of Southeast Texas history," Schaadt said. "I don't think Mr. Block will ever be replaced."
      Block's Enterprise columns over the years ranged from history to memoir.
      Block is survived by his wife, four children, two step children and eight grandchildren and five great grandchildren - and one more on the way, a Broussard's employee said.
      The Beaumont Enterprise (Beaumont, TX), Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2007.
    Person ID I17145  mykindred
    Last Modified Dec 21, 2016 

    Father William Theodore Joseph "Bill" Block,   b. Aug 02, 1870,   d. 1933  (Age 62 years) 
    Mother Sarah Jane Sweeney,   b. Aug 04, 1884,   d. Jun 12, 1983  (Age 98 years) 
    Married Jun 1919 
    Family ID F6049  Group Sheet

    Family 1 Maria Elisabeth "Betty" Kothe,   b. Aug 04, 1926, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. May 18, 1992  (Age 65 years) 
    Married Jun 02, 1947  Melsungen, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
     1. Living
     2. Living
     3. Living
     4. Living
    Family ID F6054  Group Sheet

    Family 2 Helga Scheuplein,   b. Nov 06, 1939,   d.  
    Married Aug 21, 1992 
    Family ID F6055  Group Sheet

  • Photos
    Block, William T. Jr. (1920 - )
    Block, William T. Jr. (1920 - )
    Whittington, Richard (center) with nephew Tom Cloud and W.T. Block.
    W.T. Block with Tom Cloud and Richard Whittington.
    Tom Cloud, Richard Whittington and W.T. Block

    Documents
    Autobiography leaves account of McGaffeys
    Autobiography leaves account of McGaffeys
    The Beaumont Enterprise; by W.T. Block
    Older widows in 1927 saw much history
    Older widows in 1927 saw much history
    Beaumont Enterprise, by W.T. Block



  
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