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Published: Thursday, 11/1/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Former Blade co-publisher lauded for his dedication to science, city

BY NOLAN ROSENKRANS
BLADE STAFF WRITER
From left, S. Amjad Hussain, the Blade's Joeseph H. Zerbey IV, William Koester, PE, and Allan and Susan Allan Block attend the Confluence of Science, Journalism and Civic Leadership: The Rich Legacy of Paul Block, Jr., Ph.D., Wednesday at the University of Toledo's Health Science campus.
From left, S. Amjad Hussain, the Blade's Joeseph H. Zerbey IV, William Koester, PE, and Allan and Susan Allan Block attend the Confluence of Science, Journalism and Civic Leadership: The Rich Legacy of Paul Block, Jr., Ph.D., Wednesday at the University of Toledo's Health Science campus.
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Hailed as a Renais­sance man, Paul Block, Jr., the late co-pub­lisher of The Blade, was hon­ored Wed­nes­day night dur­ing a Univer­sity of Toledo lec­ture se­ries for his con­tri­bu­tions to sci­ence and jour­nal­ism, and for his role as a civic leader.

Mr. Block’s life was the sub­ject of the fourth an­nual S. Am­jad Hus­sain vis­it­ing lec­ture in the his­tory of med­i­cine and sur­gery, a se­ries con­ducted by the Univer­sity of Toledo’s col­lege of med­i­cine and life sci­ences.

Scores of at­tend­ees — in­clud­ing the Toledo City Coun­cil pres­i­dent Joe McNamara and for­mer mayor Carty Finkbeiner — lis­tened to Mr. Block’s ac­com­plish­ments as de­scribed by Mau­rice Man­ning, a UT pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus and long­time col­league of Mr. Block at the for­mer Med­i­cal Col­lege of Ohio.

PHOTO GALLERY: Fourth Annual Dr. S. Amjad Hussain Lecture Series

The lec­ture was held in the col­lege’s Health Ed­u­ca­tion Build­ing, which is con­nected to the Paul Block, Jr., Health Science Build­ing.

Mr. Man­ning, a na­tive of Ire­land and an early fac­ulty mem­ber at MCO, now the Univer­sity of Toledo Med­i­cal Center, de­tailed some of Mr. Block’s ma­jor ac­com­plish­ments in his var­ied fields of in­ter­est. The pair were also long­time friends, and Mr. Man­ning de­scribed Mr. Block as mod­est, gen­tle, and a man with a “won­der­ful sense of hu­mor.”

“I ad­mired him as a per­son, a chem­ist, and as a civic leader,” he said.

Born in 1911, Mr. Block was a man who very much cared about Toledo, Mr. Man­ning said, ev­i­denced by the 1945 proj­ect “Toledo To­mor­row,” a view of the city 50 years in the fu­ture that was funded with $500,000 by The Blade. Thou­sands viewed the ex­hibit at the Toledo Zoo, and the proj­ect led to, among other things, the city’s Metroparks sys­tem and Toledo Ex­press Air­port.

Mr. Block was the driv­ing force in the de­vel­op­ment of the Med­i­cal Col­lege of Ohio, which opened in 1969 and merged with the Univer­sity of Toledo in 2006. Through the news­pa­per and pri­vate con­tact with pol­i­ti­cians, he convinced the state to place a med­i­cal col­lege in north­west Ohio and not else­where in the state.

The late Mr. Block was named to MCO’s board af­ter the med­i­cal school was es­tab­lished in 1964, and mem­bers elected him chair­man.

The school was Mr. Block’s first love among all his proj­ects, Mr. Man­ning said.

Maybe less known, Mr. Man­ning said, is that Mr. Block was a “vir­tu­oso chem­ist” who pub­lished 20 peer-re­viewed sci­en­tific pa­pers and was a Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health grantee. Mr. Block even had his own pri­vate lab next to his house for more than 30 years, where he con­ducted much of his re­search.

Mr. Block re­ceived a PhD in or­ganic chem­is­try from Co­lum­bia Univer­sity in New York City in 1943, and played a key role in the field of thy­roid re­search, dis­cov­er­ing that io­dine was not es­sen­tial for thy­roid com­pounds.

He syn­the­sized a com­pound that had no io­dine or other hal­o­gen, in re­search that was pub­lished in 1973 in the Jour­nal of Me­dic­i­nal Chem­is­try. Mr. Man­ning called the dis­cov­ery a rev­o­lu­tion­ary find­ing, and said Mr. Block’s work has been used ex­ten­sively in re­search and could have po­ten­tial ther­a­peu­tic uses.

All of this work came while Mr. Block was co-pub­lisher of The Blade from 1942 to 1987, when he died at the age of 75. He was a cham­pion of civil rights and a sup­porter of the arts and cul­ture in Toledo.

Al­lan Block, chair­man of The Blade’s par­ent com­pany, Block Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Inc., said the trib­ute to his father by Mr. Man­ning was out­stand­ing and well-re­searched. He said he was de­lighted that turn­out for the event was so strong, and that at­tend­ees could learn about his father’s many ac­com­plish­ments.

“I don’t think my father de­serves to just be a strange name on a build­ing who no one knew ex­isted,” he said. “He de­serves to be re­mem­bered.”

UT Pres­i­dent Lloyd Ja­cobs said many are un­aware of how ground­break­ing Mr. Block’s chem­is­try work was; he said Mr. Block’s dis­cov­ery helped shape mod­ern bio­chem­is­try. The uni­ver­sity’s Health Science Cam­pus tries to carry on Mr. Block’s mul­ti­plic­ity, by of­fer­ing health care to res­i­dents, teach­ing doc­tors, and by be­ing a leader in the com­mu­nity. “[Mr. Block’s] pur­suit of ex­cel­lence is what I think we cel­e­brate ev­ery day around here,” Dr. Ja­cobs said.

Con­tact Nolan Ro­senk­ranz at: nro­senk­ranz@the­blade.com or 419-724-6086.



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