Annette Bloch, a longtime community leader and Coachella Valley philanthropist who has donated millions of dollars to cancer research and DAP Health, and was active with the Palm Springs Art Museum and other causes, died on Saturday in Kansas at the age of 94 after a battle with cancer.
Originally from Philadelphia, Bloch was married for 58 years to Richard Bloch, co-founder of the H&R Block income tax company. After Richard Bloch survived a diagnosis of lung cancer which he was told was probably terminal, he retired in the early 1980s and began to focus his efforts on cancer treatment and support services.
Together, they founded the RA Bloch Cancer Foundation, which would later become the Richard & Annette Bloch Family Foundation, which helps many people with cancer.
After her husband’s death in 2004, Bloch remained heavily involved in local philanthropy in the Coachella Valley and in Kansas City, her other home.
In 2012, she donated $ 1 million to establish the Annette Bloch Cancer Care Center in what was then known as the Desert AIDS Project in Palm Springs, a donation that enabled DAP to diagnose and treat. dysplasia and helping clients at risk of developing cancer from their HIV infection. . DAP Health CEO David Brinkman said Bloch’s donation allowed the project to expand his medical care “in a way we could only dream of before.”
The following year, at DAP’s Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards gala, Brinkman recalls, Bloch was honored and from the stage she asked the women in the ballroom to stand up and stand by her side – symbolically and financially – to support women living with HIV.
She pledged to match the first 100 women who donated $ 1,000 that night, said her friend Ann Sheffer, a board member for DAP Health.
“Tens of thousands of dollars were raised in a matter of moments,” Brinkman recalled in an interview with The Desert Sun. “It was unprecedented, it was unforeseen and it was a testament to Annette’s insight on how to leverage her philanthropy and position in our community to help others and inspire others.”
Many of those women who donated that evening became active members of the DAP committee.
Four years later, Bloch gave the biggest giveaway in DAP history, donating $ 3 million towards the expansion of the project’s medical facilities. She was ready to donate as soon as Brinkman showed her the architectural plans for a new medical building.
“She was energized by her intention to improve the lives of all who suffer,” Brinkman said in a statement. “She has often said that everyone, regardless of their income, should have access to world-class health care.”
“I remember showing him the blueprints for our new medical building and telling him, ‘I want to be the first to have this building built. I’m going to give $ 3 million to start it up,'” he added. .
With support from Bloch, DAP Health purchased the old Riverside County Health building on its campus, and the facility will be renamed the Annette Bloch Care Building to honor its legacy.
“His investment has allowed us to double our capacity, ensuring that our doors to compassionate care remain open to all who pass through them in search of well-being,” said Brinkman. “I will always remember her positive attitude, her gratitude for the blessings of life, the value she placed on friendship and family, and as a woman who made a difference in the lives of others. , taking DAP Health boldly into the future.
Terri Ketover, a neighbor of Bloch in Rancho Mirage, recalled her as being down to earth, generous and energetic beyond her years – and always smiling.
“We’ve been neighbors for years. When I moved in, Annette came over with dinner. She said ‘I know you don’t feel like cooking (after you’ve moved out). Here.’”
Bloch has served on the board of trustees of the Palm Springs Art Museum, as well as the Annenberg Theater Council.
For years, Ketover noted, Bloch performed the opening night performance of the Annenberg cabaret series. “She loved music,” Ketover said. “She loved to sponsor and meet the artists and get to know them.”
As she got older, Ketover recalls, Bloch didn’t feel like sharing her birthday. “She used to say, I don’t like people knowing my age, because then they have expectations of me and they’re not right,” Ketover said. “And it was true. She was 90 but had the youngest mind. She fully intended to live to be 115 or 120.”
Sheffer, who also served on the Annenberg Theater Board, agreed. “She was always the first to volunteer to underwrite an artist on Broadway, or Opening Night, and was always thrilled to be at every performance.”
Bloch was also a platinum sponsor of Michael Childers’ One Night Only for several years, benefiting the Jewish Family Services of the Desert, alongside his close friends, Barbara and Jerry Keller, as well as Helene Galen and Harold Matzner. She supported Gilda’s Club in Palm Desert.
Matzner said, “Annette and her incredible generosity have had a huge impact on the world of local giving. Annette, Barbara and Terri have made a huge difference to the attention-focused nonprofit organization. These three women had the power to inspire others to follow their example. “
Sheffer added, “Annette – and of course Barbara – have been true role models for me, both at the Museum and at DAP – and I miss their enthusiasm and compassionate competence. ”
Iris Smotrich, member of the Rancho Mirage city council, recalled Bloch as “a pillar of benevolent and dedicated kindness in our community.”
“How lucky for us, that she has been such an endearing and generous part of our lives for so many years; always there when needed… and beyond,” said Smotrich.
Bloch received an Athena Award from the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce and was named an “Outstanding Philanthropist” in 2012 by the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
Beyond her community service, Bloch remained physically active in the last years of her life, still exercising five days a week at the age of 94, according to a family obituary.
Bloch loved to travel, often arranging trips for his large extended family. Among his favorite destinations were Italy, Mexico and Aspen, Colorado.
Bloch also traveled with friends. On one occasion, Brinkman recalls, he was with Bloch at a botanical garden in Mexico and he pointed out to her that it would be a perfect place to get married.
“In 20 minutes, she had the head of the garden at lunch with us and imagined what that would entail. Sure enough, in a year we had the most beautiful wedding there,” he said. “She gave a great speech and it was one of the most important days of my life.”
Bloch was predeceased by her husband, Richard, in 2004. She is survived by her 17-year-old companion, Andrei Muresan; three daughters, Barbara Huson (Lee), Nancy Linsley (Michael) and Linda Lyon (Mike); 10 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren.
Bloch’s family have planned a private funeral but expect to celebrate his life with gatherings in Kansas City and Palm Springs.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggested donations sent to the University of Kansas Health System, 2330 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Ste 305, Westwood, Kansas 66205 or DAP Health, 1695 North Sunrise Way, Palm Springs, CA 92262.
Philanthropy and Special Sections Editor-in-Chief Winston Gieseke contributed to this report.