WT Block Jr -- Lamar
W. T. Block a Novel History with Lamar
Reprinted from Lamar University 75th Anniversary Commemorative Issue
Not surprisingly, W. T. Block professes a novel history with Lamar University.
The mid-Jefferson County native and World War II veteran had been out of high school 27 years when he decided it was about time to go to college. Employed as assistant post master in Nederland by day, Block "set myself on a schedule, taking 12 hours at night in the fall and nine in the spring. I kept that up for six years."
In 1970, at age 50 W. T. Block earned the first of two degrees from Lamar, a bachelor of arts in history. His love of chronicling had begun when he was a boy subscribing to historical magazines. Of particular interest: the Civil War.
The ink was not yet dry on his undergraduate degree when Block signed up for graduate school. Still working as a postmaster, he taught beginning history classes at Lamar on his off-nights while completing course work for a master’s degree in history, awarded in 1974.
Block’s master’s thesis served double duty as a degree requirement and a gift to local historical archives.
"The History of Jefferson County from Wilderness to Reconstruction is probably the thickest master’s thesis in the library," laughs Block, now 78. It was a true labor of love, and 100 percent self-published -- hand-collated and bound over four weekends in 1976. Within three months, Block had sold enough books to recoup his investment; in six months, he had sold all 800 copies. The book remains out of print but is available on loan from Lamar’s Cray Library.
Block retired from postal work in 1973 and looked for work on campus in the business office. No such position was available, but, as luck would have it, the campus needed a post-master, and Block certainly had the experience. He spent the next 10 years as Lamar’s postmaster. During his lunch hour, he could often be found reading microfilm in the library, gathering more tidbits for more engaging revelations of times long past.
Since W. T. Block started writing, he has hardly stopped, publishing nine books and countless articles. He continues to contribute to newspapers and historical journals, and made some history of his own recently authoring a web site designed to invite dialog among historians.