Leroy Francis (Lee) Block
1934 - 2021
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Leroy (Lee) Francis Block
November 25, 1934 - February 5, 2021
Resident of Santa Clara
Santa Clara Valley has lost one of her sons. LeRoy (Lee) Francis Block, 86, died peacefully at home on February 5 at 9:56 am, lovingly attended by his life long partner Colleen O'Kane Block; children Teresa, Brian, Briget; and sister-in-law Teresa O'Kane, after a long hard struggle with cancer. He lived in Santa Clara Valley for most of his 86 years.
Born in Webster, South Dakota, Lee was the first of eleven children of Florence and Emil Block. In the 1950s, the Block family was well known in east San Jose for the Emil Block and Sons Turkey Farm. A farm of roughly 10,000 turkeys that supplied much of Santa Clara Valley with their Thanksgiving Day feasts. All the Block children worked hard to support the farm when they weren't in school.
Lee was a proud graduate from the Bellarmine College Preparatory class of 1954. Through his life he strived to live the Bellarmine code "A Man for Others". He excelled on the football team and in running track. He faithfully attended every annual Alumni tailgate game with his alumni football pal Rodger O'Brien sitting at the top of the bleachers right under the announcer's booth.
In the early 60's after being asked to be the Advisor for the St. Clare's CYO teen club, Lee discovered his passion... Teaching.
Going back to school at age 28, he actualized his passion, graduating with a degree in history and a teaching credential in 1971 from San Jose State University. He supported his family by becoming a high school teacher of history, economics, and psychology in the Milpitas Unified School District where he spent the next 30 years. He was an innovative, person-centered teacher, well loved by the CYO and high school students alike for his ability to listen, really listen, to allow his students as well as his children to come to their own decisions and become their own individual persons.
Lee never gave up his passion for learning, ergo his daily reading of the New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle as well periodicals on psychology, gardening, and mindfulness. Lee exemplified "Knowledge is power. If you have knowledge, you can make good decisions."
Self-knowledge was high on Lee's list of books on compassion, emotional intelligence, acceptance of self and others, empathy, etc. It all started with the book On Becoming a Person by humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers as well as the numerous books by Jon Kabat Zinn, and Jack Kornfield. You could find page after page underlined with Lee's comments written next to the author's words.
Lee taught his family that camping and hiking in such places as Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite, Mt. Lassen, and New Brighton State Beach was the way to learn about nature and how to cook the best breakfast of bacon, eggs, and pancakes over an open fire. Lee's love of being outside was kindled by growing up on a farm, which he emulated for his own family by keeping our yard consistently inhabited by dogs, a cat, numerous chickens, rabbits, ducks, geese, and even a 50-pound turkey named Steve. The yard became something of a well-loved neighborhood zoo. Lee's love for nature exemplified itself in his garden. Not a day goes by that someone passing by the house comments on how beautiful his garden is. His philosophy was painted on the garden gate: "May I be filled with loving kindness. May you be at ease and happy."
Lee's spiritual nature found him helping serve mass at the nearby historical Santa Clara Carmelite Monastery chapel. The Monastery bells that rang four times a day were a feast for his heart. He so loved the Carmelite Sisters and they in turn loved him.
Lee is preceded in death by his parents Florence and Emil; brothers - Delbert, Henry, Douglas and by his sister Valerie.
Surviving Lee are Colleen and their children Teresa, Brian, Briget; grandchild Lola; his brothers Larry, Dick, Robert, Gabriel and Christopher and his sister Gracie Ann; his sisters-in-law Gloria, Carol, Lynn, Tina, Gail, Patricia; his in-laws Teresa O'Kane & Scott Soper; and Sean & Ann O'Kane; and myriad nieces, nephews and grandnieces/nephews; and all his very dear and close friends.
Lee was unique, transparent, congruently true to his own person. He will be missed but his essence will always be but a breath away.

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Published in San Jose Mercury News/San Mateo County Times from Feb. 12 to Feb. 14, 2021.
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3 entries
February 18, 2021
Mr. Lee Block was the best neighbor anyone could ask for. He always made us feel welcome in the neighborhood. Whenever he would see us, he would cross the street and have a chat about spirituality, psychology, health, gardening and more. His house was surrounded by a beautiful garden and inside its gates it felt like a secret garden. He always accepted our invitations to come visit our mosque and break fast with us in addition to attending my wedding in 2018 at the mosque as well. I will miss our conversations and his friendly smile, and I am comforted to know that his legacy lives on in his partner, children, school children, garden and neighbors. May God have mercy ok him always. Ameen.
Sarah Ismail
February 15, 2021
Really loved working with Lee at Milpitas High School. He was a very kind man to his students and his colleagues. I was very sadden to hear of his passing. Condolences to the entire family.
Jeff Lamb
February 14, 2021
I worked with Lee Block at Milpitas High School. He was a great friend to me and his students. I will always remember when I told him I wanted to learn how to fly fish. He gave me my first flies he had tied himself. Thank you Mr. Block.
Nancy Sigsbee
Nancy Sigsbee
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