John M.W. Bloch MONTPELIER — John Michael Wesley Bloch, born Sept. 1, 1938 (son of Ruth Scanlon Bloch and Leon Bloch), passed away peacefully at home in Montpelier on Nov. 6, 2021, having been cared for by his wife, Rebecca Sheppard, for many years. John was a stalwart defender of peace and justice with an unwavering vision of a society with equal access to education, housing and health care. Born in New York City and raised in Markham, Virginia, John came to Vermont in 1958 as a student at Goddard College, where he received his BS in History. He later received an MA in Community Development from Springfield College. Throughout his life, John was a powerful voice for marginalized communities and early in his career, he took part in the "War on Poverty," first in Washington, D.C., then Columbus, Indiana, before settling in Vermont with his first wife, Susan Dwelle, and their three children, to direct one of the new federal government Head Start programs which provided early childhood education for economically disadvantaged children. John’s career trajectory was animated by the possibility of societal transformation, and he touched many lives in his diverse work, including overseeing the Parent Child Center (PCC) in Barton, Vermont, and Head Start programs throughout New England; working at the Center for Community Change in Washington, DC; expanding adult education as an administrator and professor with Vermont Community College, New Hampshire College and Springfield College; running the Morrisville food co-op; and creating community access to telecommunications in central Vermont through work with Orca Media and EC Fiber. He was endlessly fascinated by digital technology and delighted in, and heralded, the dawn of the personal computing revolution, quickly realizing the transformative potential of the new tools, and finding ways to engage them to amplify the impact of his work and organizing. As a person who deeply believed in the power of democracy, John was an iconoclast with a brilliant and curious intellect who held power accountable while putting in the hours and homework required to make change happen. John was instrumental in bringing new leadership to the Washington Electric Co-op, securing federal grant funds to build the Doty Memorial Elementary School in Worcester (Vermont), and campaigning tirelessly for the Liberty Union party and sometimes himself running for office. He served as a member of numerous local and national boards, including the Worcester and U-32 school boards, the Barre Historical Society/Old Labor Hall board, Hunger Mountain Co-op, and the Rural Coalition; and he was also a union steward with the Vermont State Employees Association (VSEA). John's ideal way to relax was to debate politics over good food, and he loved to cook, eat and talk about cuisines of the world, from Chinese dim sum to dilly beans, with everything in-between. He delighted in looking after his blueberry bushes, savoring Pennsylvania peaches, and giving advice on how to ripen tomatoes. His appetite for food was equaled by his voracious reading and love for knowledge and history of social justice movements. Pancakes with a side of bacon, shared with his grandchildren, was an activity that equaled, or surpassed, any of his culinary exploits and brought sheer bliss to all. Having traversed the 50 states, later in life, he also developed a passion for international travel, both to learn about social justice and labor rights initiatives in Argentina, Brazil, China and Mexico, and also to visit family in Switzerland, Turkey and Canada. John’s joy of life is celebrated and he is mourned by many friends, family and especially, his loving wife and partner, Rebecca Sheppard; and his five children, Colin Bloch (Burlington), Alexia Bloch and her husband, Milind Kandlikar (Vancouver, British Columbia), Jared Bloch and his wife, Laila Rodriguez (Geneva, Switzerland), Tobias Sheppard Bloch and his wife, Daniela Nanau (Queens, New York), and Abraham Sheppard Bloch (incorrigible citizen of the world); and seven grandchildren, Anastacia Esparza Bloch, Isabel Esparza Bloch, Emilia Esparza Bloch, Gabriela Rodriguez Bloch, Mira Kandlikar-Bloch, Samir Kandlikar-Bloch and Olivia Bloch. He was predeceased by his daughter, Sacha Tanya Bloch. Please consider donating to the Barre Labor Hall or the Southern Poverty Law Center. A celebration of John’s life will be held at the Barre Labor Hall on Sunday, Nov. 14, at 1 p.m. Masks and vaccinations required.

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Dear Becky,

Sincere sympathy to you and your family .

Dr. Bob and Judy Nist


Rebecca, I'm so sorry to hear of John's passing. My thoughts are with you and your family. Love, Linda Workman

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