Stephanie S. Block, 71, of Gothenburg, Nebraska, died April 22, 2021 in Kearney, NE.
On April 22, 2021, the world unexpectedly lost an extraordinary wife, mother (McMamma), sister, aunt, Amma, teacher, and friend. Stephanie Sue (Frick) Block lived her life dedicated to love. Steph or Stevi (as she was known to those closest to her) was relied upon deeply by her family and friends-because she wanted to be, and also, she found great joy in doing it. She gave her life to service in everything she did because she knew no other way.
Growing up on a dairy farm in Graettinger, Iowa was a mark of pride for her, and where she first “earned her stripes.” She graduated from Graettinger High School and went on to get degrees from Iowa Lakes Community College and Mankato State College. After graduation, her first and true loves were waiting for her in Gothenburg, Nebraska. She earned her first job as a 4th grade teacher at Gothenburg Public Schools in 1971.
In the early days of her career, Steph met Doug Block, the singular love of her life. They married in 1973 and became dedicated partners in life and in love. Doug and Steph cherished their time together working on the farm, where there was little need for explanation or encouragement when Doug requested assistance with irrigating, working cattle, fixing a pivot, or virtually anything on the farm. They encouraged, supported, and cheered each other on through each of their individual and collaborative successes; and held each other tight through the hard times. Doug and Steph were the textbook definition of life partners that were a team.
Anyone who had “Ms. Frick” or “Mrs. Block” as their teacher will fondly remember how teaching wasn’t just a profession for her-it was a true calling. She didn’t just “teach.” She nurtured and guided her students in a way that didn’t just explain. Mrs. Block spent 38 enthusiastic years being the teacher that “showed” her students what it meant to be curious about the world, and how to be gracious and loving in it-and in her unique way, helped them find their own place and calling in it. So much so, that one of her students nominated her for the Chadwick’s of Boston “Teacher of the Year” award-and, naturally, she won. Mrs. Block herself applied for, and again won, a grant to develop a “Living History” area on a plot of land near the school. There, she built a straw bale house, helped construct a blessed native tipi, erected a working windmill, and would there teach students about Native American and early Nebraska settler history. She brought the world to her students. By the “passports” she issued them, they “traveled” throughout the school year, and she taught them words from the languages and customs of places to which students may not have the opportunity to explore.
But Steph also adored the time that she herself was able to travel. Her cherished daughter, Allison, with whom she shared a devoted friendship, lived abroad frequently. That permitted Steph and Doug to explore places like Turkey, Czech Republic, and Canada.
Steph also dedicated her love, passion, and compassion to her church: American Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Gothenburg. She joyfully employed her skills to serve as Sunday School Superintendent, and as an instructor for bible school and JAM. She adored and appreciated her church family. She particularly had the opportunity to show off her skill set as the head chef for summer bible school, because one of the ways Steph demonstrated her love was through her delicious and generous cooking.
Mrs. Block had a tough time accepting “retirement,” so she frequently substitute taught at Gothenburg Public Schools. When she wasn’t “retirement teaching,” she devoted her time to the things and people she valued and loved the most: her family and crafting. She cared for many littles in her circle, and her home was filled with entertainment and education to accommodate all of the small ones she loved, which were so many. But for Steph, personally, her home also had every craft gadget one could imagine-because she loved through creating and giving. Most recently, she made beautiful, unique, seasonal wreaths; and more importantly, she graciously sewed and distributed hundreds of personalized and seasonal masks, in light of the COVID pandemic.
Steph’s signature was care, whether it was for people or her countless animals. She inspired, motivated, assisted, counseled, encouraged, supported, and loved so many. Preceding Steph in leaving her earthly life were her parents, Marilyn (Ditsworth) Frick and Paul Frick, of Graettinger, Iowa, and her parents-in-law, Margaret (Malm) Block and Edwin Block, of Gothenburg. Her legacy will be carried on through the community and public school system she loved and served, but mostly by Doug, her husband of 47 years and their only child, Allison. She will be profoundly missed by her sister, Paulette Webb and husband Mike Webb, and their children Brooke Webb, Taylor Webb, and Jacob and Lauren Webb, and their daughter, Parker; and her sister Suzanne Williamson, and her sons Connor Williamson (Tasha Perez), Casey Williamson (Aubree Denenkamp) and his daughters Olivia, Sutton, and Addison; as well as the extended family she called her own.
Memorials may be designated to the Gothenburg Education Fund, or the Backpack Program.