The greatest compliment you could pay Philip D. Block III was to call him a Chicagoan.
“Chicago was so much a part of his soul, who he was,” said Margie Block Stineman, his daughter. “He cared deeply and genuinely for the community in which he lived.”
P.D., as he was known by family and friends, died July 1, 2016. He was 79.
His great-grandfather Joseph Block and grandfather Philip D. Block, Sr. founded Inland Steel Co. in 1893, after Joseph visited the World’s Fair and decided to buy a shuttered steel mill. From that era on, the Block family name was intertwined with Chicago history.
“Chicago gave my dad and his family their livelihood,” said Stineman. “They moved here and started a company, and it was this place that welcomed them. They had this belief that you give back to the community that has given so much to you.”
Block lived most of his life within a few blocks of his boyhood home on Lake Shore Drive. After graduating from Yale University, he returned to Chicago to work for the family business. He started at the mill and worked in a number of departments before becoming vice president of purchasing, according to Judy Block, his wife of 49 years.
“Chicago gave my dad and his family their livelihood. They had this belief that you give back to the community that has given so much to you.”
In 1985, he opened the local office of Capital Guardian Trust Co., where he worked for 18 years.
Throughout his life, he had a second career supporting some of Chicago’s most important institutions. Block was a life trustee of the Shedd Aquarium, serving as chairman of its board of trustees in the early 1990s. He was also a life trustee of the Chicago History Museum. He was a trustee at Children’s Memorial Hospital, now Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, and chaired the budget committee for many years.
“When P.D. said he would do something, he did it,” Judy Block recalled. “He prepared for board meetings like he was taking an exam. He read everything they sent him.”
Block also found time to serve on the boards of the Better Government Association, the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago and the Latin School of Chicago. He was a longtime
friend of The Chicago Community Trust, where his father and wife both served on the Executive Committee.
“P.D. always cared deeply about the work of the Trust,” Judy Block said. “He loved this city, he truly did,” said Judy Block. “He knew he was part of a great legacy in Chicago, and it was very important to him that people thought of the Block family, and him included, as people who cared about the future as much as they cared about the past in Chicago.”