Lawrence Clifford Bloch
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1953 - 2012 Lawrence Clifford Bloch, 59, social entrepreneur and activist largely responsible for the resurgence of the American jamband music scene, died peacefully in his home overlooking the Connecticut River on Sunday October 28th of pancreatic cancer, in the company of loving friends and family.
Larry was the son of Miriam (David) and Ephraim F. Bloch, the founder and CEO of Perfect Fit Industries in NY. He was born in Philadelphia, Penn., in 1953, and raised in Manhattan. He graduated from Riverdale Country Day School in the Bronx and attended Washington University at St. Louis, before moving to California in the 1970s.
During that time, Larry purchased Haskell Printing in Santa Monica , which he operated for 7 years. In the late 80s, Larry would make the pivotal decision to move back to NYC with his first wife Laura, and realize his innovative vision for a nightclub that would combine the creative elements of a hippie bar scene that was both laid-back and energetic, would raise awareness of environmental and social justice activism issues, and fund the not-for-profit efforts of its own internal Activism Center. The Wetlands Preserve (AKA The Wetlands) opened on February 16, 1989, an Eco-Saloon that not only combined his passions of grass roots activism and improvisational music, but embodied the spirit and ethos of a community that continues to this day.
The Wetlands, later featured in the 2006 Dean Budnick documentary film, "The Wetlands Preserved", became a musical juggernaut that would help skyrocket the careers of notable bands such as Blues Traveler, Phish, moe., Agnostic Front, Pearl Jam, Oasis, The Spin Doctors, Dave Matthews Band and many more, as well as launch the 90s Ska movement.
Larry moved to Brattleboro in 1996, after turning over the club to someone who would preserve its mission and integrity, to be closer to his son Aaron, the light of his life. Here he established the natural fiber clothing store Save the Corporations From Themselves, so named as a device to better educate inquiring people about the negative impact of corporate personhood. The space also offered The Activist Attic on the second floor, which provided resources, information, and materials for groups and individuals to be active and effective participants in community affairs. Seen strolling the street daily in his long shorts, sandals, and pulled up brown hemp socks, Larry would become one of the most widely recognized personalities of Brattleboro, as if he had lived here all of his life. He was instrumental in founding the independent Radio Free Brattleboro, which operated from 1998-2004, later co-founding WVEW Brattleboro Community Radio where he served as a program director and DJ. Larry became an active board member of Build a Better Brattleboro, spearheading the effort to take on the River Garden property as a valuable community resource. Larry also created and maintained a community bulletin board, served as a member of the Brattleboro Charter Commission for 3 years, and advocated for a Big Box Store Ordinance and zoning charter change.
An athlete, Larry was an active tennis player and member of the Brattleboro Outing Club, organizing their annual tennis tournament and competing regionally. A talented gambler with a brilliant head for numbers and statistics, in 2005, Larry was one of only a handful of people to win the Kentucky Derby Superfecta. In 2012, Larry married his life partner Lisa, who adored him and shared his idealism and goals.
His loss is mourned by his wife Falana Lisa Bloch (formerly Lisa Clarke), his son Aaron Michael Bloch of NYC, sister Michele B. Bloch of Westport, Connecticut and her husband John Cuseo, and their children Maggie and Harry Bloch. He is also survived by the extended family of his close friend and former wife Laura Bloch Bourque, as well as a worldwide community of Wetlands alumni, local and global activists, and individuals who Larry's tremendous life touched in a meaningful way that continues to ripple far beyond his time here. As he was fond of expressing, "May you find joy in every day."
FUNERAL NOTICE: A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m., on Saturday November 3rd at the West Brattleboro Meetinghouse (All Souls Unitarian Church) on South St.. Family will also be sitting shiva and receiving visitors later that evening from 5 to 7 p.m., and on Sunday Nov. 4th from 5 to 7 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to WVEW, and community members are asked to please remember to vote on Nov. 6th.
Published in Brattleboro Reformer on Nov. 1, 2012