Harold Brock Stayed Involved Until the End
By: Andrew Wind, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier
Date Published: Tuesday, January 04, 2011
WATERLOO, Iowa --- Harold Brock stepped down from Hawkeye Community College's board of trustees three years ago, but he never lost interest in the institution he helped found.
Brock, who died Sunday at 96, still was an active member of the college's foundation board. The retired John Deere engineer attended legislative forums to advocate for Hawkeye and until recently made lobbying trips to Des Moines.
"I often had conversations with Harold about new initiatives," said Linda Allen, Hawkeye's interim president. He offered "wonderful perspectives about technical training and work force training." She last talked to him in December about some of the new advanced technology programs and state-of-the-art equipment the college is installing.
"He was very pleased to see the new initiatives and the new directions we're going," Allen said.
"Harold's passing is a profound loss for his family, for students and staff at Hawkeye and for the larger community," she said. "Growing (Hawkeye) from 106 students to 6,700 is really predicated on the groundwork that Mr. Brock laid. His vision and leadership over the years were truly driving forces in the success of Hawkeye and for Iowa community colleges overall."
Bob Brock said his father's health had been declining recently and he checked into the hospital Thursday, staying overnight.
After returning home Friday, "We had a nice evening, and he talked about a lot of stories," Bob said. "His mind was as sharp as a tack." A medical problem developed after Brock went to sleep Saturday night, and he died about 6:20 a.m. Sunday.
Bob had the opportunity to talk with Brock about his life before he died.
"He said, basically, he feels really blessed. He accomplished all the things he wanted to and he was ready to go."
Funeral services will be Jan. 15 at First Congregational Church in Waterloo with visitation Jan. 14. Service times are pending.
Brock started his career in the 1930s at Ford Motor Co. working with Henry Ford. Waterloo resident Orrin Miller, who researches the history of industrial technology, noted Brock designed Ford's 9N and 8N tractors. He helped to design what became the Jeep and redesign car gear shifts to go on the steering column.
Miller said that during World War II, Brock helped redesign the front of what became the M4 Sherman tank, work that was being done in Waterloo at a subsidiary of John Deere. After a disagreement with Ford executives about a power shift transmission they planned to put into production, Brock left the company and came to Waterloo in 1959 to design tractors for John Deere.
While working for the company, he also was involved with the founding of what was originally Hawkeye Institute of Technology in 1965 and Junior Achievement of Black Hawk Land in the early 1970s. He served on Hawkeye's board of trustees for 24 years in two separate stints. He served on Junior Achievement's board for more than 30 years.
Brock retired in 1985 at 70, but continued his community involvement. Although it was scaled back in recent years, he always found ways to remain involved. Along with the Hawkeye Community College Foundation, he was a member of the Grout Museum District board.
"I'll never ever forget him," said Mark Birdnow, chairman of Hawkeye's board. "He'll be with me for the rest of my life."
Birdnow recalled Brock's fondness for quoting one of Ford's mantras: "Stay around young people, they'll keep you young." Brock took the advice to heart. That was reflected in the naming of the Brock Student Center at Hawkeye Community College, which opened in 2008.
"It was particularly fitting that the student center was named in his honor," Allen said. "First and foremost, Mr. Brock cared about students."
Visit the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier for additional stories about Mr. Harold Brock.
Services for Harold Brock
Read Harold Brock's full obituary.