Remembering S. Frank Blocker, Jr.

6 February 2020
Mr. S. Frank Blocker Portrait

It is with sadness that the YMCA of South Hampton Roads delivers this reflection of love and gratitude. 

On Saturday, January 25, 2020, the Norfolk community lost a changemaker—Frank Blocker, Jr. 

Mr. Blocker was a man of character, love for his community and a visionary of the future. He was a lifelong member of the YMCA who, as a child and young adult, watched his father strongly and passionately support the Y. Mr. Blocker learned to swim at the Y and was actively involved in youth programs throughout his childhood. As a young man, he became a well-known handball player displaying his handball accomplishments and trophies proudly in his office. From there, his commitment to the Y grew through volunteerism and philanthropy. 

In the 1970’s., Mr. Blocker started the YMCA endowment and was the Chair of the Endowment Trustees for nearly 30 years. Mr. Blocker was generous not only with his time, but with his financial resources. In 1993, his first major gift to the Norfolk YMCA helped build the pool (named in memory of his father) and laid the foundation for the remarkable transformation of this facility from one primarily for businessmen to a thriving center for children and families of all ages. In 1998, Mr. Blocker’s generosity was instrumental in building an outdoor pool complex at YMCA Camp Silver Beach (on the Eastern Shore of Virginia) and the camp’s Blocker Environmental Center which is used by thousands of children each year. 

He proudly served as the Chairman for the Volunteer Board of Directors from 1977-1978, and in 1978 he was awarded the Man of the Year Award by the Norfolk YMCA. In 1995 he received the YMCA’s highest honor of recognition for outstanding volunteer leadership, the YMCA’s Order of the Red Triangle. The YMCA of South Hampton Roads is honored to bear Frank Blocker’s name for its flagship YMCA and is committed to making his legacy a reality every day by serving children and families and strengthening the foundations of our community.

In memory of Mr. Blocker, YMCA staff that knew him best shared what he meant to them, and to the Y:

Anthony Walters, President & CEO, YMCA of South Hampton Roads
Earlier in my career I was fortunate enough to operate the Blocker Norfolk Family YMCA where Mr. Blocker's contributions are evident throughout every part of the 100,000 square foot building. His legacy and commitment to the Y and to Norfolk through service, investment, and good deeds will be carried on. It's not common to find a man of such kindness and generosity. Mr. Blocker was instrumental in creating the change the Downtown Y needed to better serve the community. We will continue to model our future investment in the Blocker Norfolk Family YMCA with Mr. Blocker in mind – considering how the Y can maintain relevance as a community of changemakers today, and tomorrow.

Billy George, Former President & CEO, YMCA of South Hampton Roads
Our Y has lost a legend and a hero. Frank's significant and enormous generosity played a major role in the growth and development of our Norfolk Y, renamed in 2008 the Blocker Norfolk Family YMCA. For over 50 years, Frank has been a great friend to our Y and our community.

Jo Ann Watts, Director of Financial Development Operations, YMCA of South Hampton Roads and long-time friend of Mr. Blocker
In tribute to Mr. Blocker many things have been said, he was a legend, an advocate for the Y, a generous benefactor and a champion for our Endowment Fund. It’s true, he was all of those things and so much more. Mr. Blocker was generous of spirit, kind, compassionate, a good listener and an astute business leader. He was a man who could light up the room with his smile, the twinkle in his eye and his keen sense of humor.  Mr. Blocker was never afraid to speak his mind but was also willing to listen to the thoughts of others. His family speaks of his love for the Y, which started as a young boy and only grew stronger throughout the years. Because of his generosity, you will see a YMCA facility, pools, environmental buildings and a Youth Center all bearing the Blocker name. Beyond his monetary gifts, Mr. Blocker gave us so much more, his friendship and the opportunity to share in his life. All of us who knew him reciprocated that love and respect, and a few of us were honored to call him our friend. So yes, he was a legend, a Y advocate, a champion for our programs, a generous benefactor in the community, but for me he was my true friend and I will miss him dearly.