Susan Sanders Block’s imagination began flowing when she was a young girl. In kindergarten, she was diagnosed with Legg-Calve-Perthes disease and confined to her bed for eight months. “I spent a lot of time by myself,” she says.
Although she eventually recovered, she had to avoid high-impact activities and was not allowed to walk, run or jump like other kids. “I had to keep myself occupied since there was no TV in my bedroom, and I could not read very well,” she explains. Her creativity grew even more as the years passed, helping her blossom into the gifted woman she is today – an accomplished artist, entrepreneur, interior designer, supporter, mentor and volunteer extraordinaire.
At the age of 20, she joined Junior League, where she says she learned how to be an effective volunteer. “I love doing the creative work needed by organizations,” she says. “It’s rewarding to see them grow and know that you have been a part of their success.”
In the past 40 years, she has chaired more than 100 events and committees, including the Leigh Gerdine Advisory Council at Webster University’s College of Fine Arts, the St. Louis County Library Gala, the St. Louis City Library Gala and Craft Alliance’s 40th anniversary. She has also served on more than 20 boards, including the Arts and Education Council, the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Saint Louis Zoo and the Spirit of St. Louis Women’s Fund, which she co-founded. A supporter and mentor to many fashion designers and artists, she also serves on the board of the St. Louis Fashion Fund.
In 2009, Block was recognized as a Woman of Achievement for her creative philanthropy. She has also been honored as a Woman of Worth and a Ladue Horton Watkins High School Local Hero, and received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Washington University in St. Louis.
In 1980, she started an interior design group, The Designing Block. The Designing Block temporarily closed last summer and is currently transitioning into an art gallery and workshop. Block works with all kinds of media, but most of her contemporary work is done in acrylic. “I’m finally getting back into my true love of painting,” she says.
A graduate of Wash U, Block was president of Pi Beta Phi sorority and a member of the university’s student/alumni relations committee. It was there that she met her husband, Terry. “We dated for four years and have been married for 44,” she says. The couple has two children – Britton, who lives in St. Louis, and Julie, who lives in Mexico with her husband and “Nick, our perfect grandson.”
An innate storyteller and award-winning photographer and writer, Alice Handelman provides Ladue News readers with a glimpse into lives that enrich St. Louis.