Henry Bloch and Bill Dunn have helped to transform KC’s business and non-profit community, but the impact they’ve had is personal.
By Joe Sweeney
The guidelines in professional sports journalism dictate that there’s no cheering in the press box, but that’s never stopped someone from secretly rooting for the team he covers. After all, if it’s the Royals going to a World Series or the Chiefs going to a Super Bowl, that means the writer may have a free ticket to the big game, too.
We here at Ingram’s have long been a little more up-front with our own bias, and yes, we bring it to work every day. We root for business success, and for the advancement of quality of life in Missouri and Kansas—and we’ve never been ashamed of it. We demonstrate that in many ways, but a key element is the content we produce to recognize outstanding achievement by individuals and organizations: 40 Under Forty, Best Companies to Work For, Top Doctors, Icons of Education and more than a dozen others recognition programs.
This year, we’ve enhanced Ingram’s December edition to include the Philanthropist of the Year Award. We’ve considered developing this program for some time, but held off for a few of reasons. For one, a concern about whether the program would be sustainable—this region has a number of leaders that are uniquely qualified, and we do not believe it will be a challenge to select honorees from among them. The question is, how will candidates look several years from now.
And such was the case this year with Henry Bloch and Bill Dunn Sr., who are the first to be recognized with that title. Another is an over-abundance of such recognition by any number of outlets—non-profits with their own recognition programs, for example, or other media or organizations with their own programs. What sets this year’s Ingram’s honorees apart is that we’ve long known Mr. Bloch and Mr. Dunn not just professionally, but personally for decades—and we’ve cheered them and their companies on for all of the years of owning this publication and for decades before that as admirers.
I met Henry Bloch in the summer of 1976 at Pat Uhlmann’s fund-raiser for President Gerald Ford, running as an incumbent. Although I was technically Pat’s gardener on his Mission Hills estate at the time, perhaps the fact that I’d soon be in college made me uniquely qualified to serve as bartender at this high-security affair. Mr. Bloch was as gracious of a gentlemen to me then as he was when we honored him this month.
Because Bill Dunn and Henry Bloch are long retired, many who are young or new to Kansas City may not fully realize the contributions they have made to life here.
Each holiday season, we would be invited to join the board and executive team of Valentine Radford and I was honored to sit next to and enjoy visiting with Mr. Bloch. His keen ability to encourage and mentor young business people was as apparent then as it remains today. I can’t recall the first time I met Mr. Dunn, but I consider our friendship lasting for decades.
Back in the ‘80s I operated a contracting company and we provided services for JE Dunn. Perhaps the firm was not as dominant it is today, but rest assured, it was a force back then with an arsenal of talented sons and managers, and JE Dunn was clearly the market leader, at least in my eyes. I often wonder had we not purchased Ingram’s in 1996 where my career would have landed. There are a few firms on a short list that I’ve always admired and felt connected to, and JE Dunn was at the top of the list.
I suppose that despite three zeroes separating the revenues of our firms, I have always been treated with dignity and as if I were the CEO of a billion-dollar enterprise. If Jean and Bill Dunn did anything well, it was in the upbringing of their children, perhaps the most polite and professional family I’ve ever known.
Because both Mr. Bloch and Mr. Dunn have been retired for the better part of two decades, an entire generation’s worth of new employees and residents has arrived in Kansas City, and as the years pass, it might become a bit harder for them to fully appreciate the contributions that each of these two gentlemen has made to the region. Their stories need to be told, and told again. Including in this year’s Philanthropy special edition. We’re mighty proud, and a little bit humbled, to consider Mr. Dunn and Mr. Bloch a personal friend, and a friend of Ingram’s Magazine. A nd we’re grateful for having the chance to pay them this tribute.
Editor-In-Chief & Publisher