Jacob "Jack" Block 1923 - 2016
Jack Block - man of faith, devoted husband, family man, educator, investor, farmer, adventurer, visionary, change agent, philanthropist, and leader - was born October 5, 1923 in Sarotov, Arkadak Colony, Russia, the eldest son of John and Helena (Sawatsky) Block. He lived through nearly a century of social and technological change and thrived in an atmosphere of transformation. In 1925, at age 2, Jack's family immigrated to Saskatchewan. Three years later, in 1928, his father built a log cabin in Mullingar, Saskatchewan. Jack spent the next 8 years in that small 2 room cabin with his parents, 2 brothers, and 3 sisters. In 1937, the family moved to Yarrow, British Columbia. High school, various jobs, and Bible school occupied his very active life. In 1939, Jack was baptised, which he described as a milestone in his life. In 1943 at age 20, he joined the Army Medical Corps. He was stationed in England and in Germany, returning to Canada in 1946. Jack then enrolled in Sharon High School in Yarrow where he met Lena Janzen. They married on September 27, 1947 in the Yarrow MB Church. In 1948, their first child, Judith, was born.
Jack and Lena soon moved to Vancouver where Jack enrolled at the University of British Columbia, studying math and physics, supported in part, by a veteran's grant. After graduating in 1952, he accepted a job with Imperial Oil in Alberta, and then with McMillan Bloedel Pulp and Paper on Vancouver Island. Jim was born in 1953, and Marjorie in 1955. In 1955, Jack partnered successfully with his father in construction until his father's retirement in 1959.
In 1958 Jack was elected to the BC Mennonite Brethren Provincial Youth Committee. He decided to work in education. In the fall, he enrolled in Teacher Training at the University of British Columbia. After completion of the program, he taught at Port Moody High School and completed his master's degree. He was elected to the Executive of the Coquitlam Teacher's Association and then continued as President. Later he opened 2 new schools as principal in the Coquitlam School District. He advocated open discovery rather than rote memory - an area he had researched at UBC and later at Stanford University (California).
Jack was a daring and active man. He was an avid water skier, flying behind his well loved red and white fiberglass boat, the Bellboy (owned from 1959-1999). The family often holidayed at Skaha Lake and Osoyoos. Jack enjoyed snow skiing. The family spent many Saturdays and Christmas and Easter holidays at Manning Park and other mountains. Jack and his children rode dirt motorcycles together and all these recreational adventures were often shared with other families, creating great memories. Jack challenged the elements by hang gliding, crushing several vertebrae resulting in a slighter shorter stature. He obtained his pilot's license, sailing and power squadron certifications for ocean adventures, his air brakes certification, and at age 78 his road motorcycle licence. He enjoyed technology, flight simulators, remote control helicopters, woodworking, farming, RV travel, reading, Sudoku, and investing. He purchased his first computer in 1980 and used photographs to create DVDs, cards, videos and slide shows. Travel included Africa, Europe, South America, Israel, Egypt, Palestine, Australia, Hawaii, Panama and other places.
Stillwood camp was part of Jack and Lena's mission interest for many years. Jack played an important role in the initial organization of the camp where he served as the first director, continuing on as board chair and member. He supported Columbia Bible College (formerly MB Bible Institute) financially and served on the board a total of 11 years, 9 as chair. Jack also served as board chair of MB Bible College (now CMU) in Winnipeg. Jack and Lena generously supported their church, MB Mission, Mennonite Central Committee where he served on the board, and many other charities. Christianity was the foundation of Jack's life. His moral compass and actions were guided by Christian principles and he lived a life of deep faith. Jack rooted in the Mennonite Brethren Church. Yarrow, Fraserview, Willingdon, South Langley, and Bakerview were all churches he attended, supported, and often provided significant leadership.
Jack lived life to the full. He appreciated good health, his church, his family, friends and life in Canada. He was a determined, disciplined man of integrity. He enjoyed his retirement. He adored his wife, Lena. The family thanks so many people for their support, kindness, prayers, and friendship.
Jack will be deeply missed by his loving and devoted wife, Lena
- his daughter Judith (Harold) Dueck; granddaughter, Jennifer Dueck and great grandson Noah; grandson Adrian (Patricia) Dueck and great grandsons Landen and Jacob.
- son James (Evelyn) Block; granddaughter Alissa (Kamil) Chojnacki and great grandchildren Hudson and Emmalena; Jefferson (Sara) Block and great grandchildren Jack, Lia and Grey; grandson David (Carmen) Block
- his daughter Marjorie (Russell) Speiser and grandchildren Julie Wiebe and Brent (Samantha) Wiebe;
- his siblings Arthur (Lauradel) Block, Helen (Jacob deceased) Nickel, Anne (Walter) Willms along with many friends & relatives. Jack was predeceased by his siblings Henry (Laura) Block, Erna (Alvin) Ens and Elvera (Peter deceased) Wiebe.