EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE: Mrs. World War II Wilmington
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Hannah Block will be honored this weekend to mark the 75th anniversary of the Hannah Block USO Building in Wilmington. She played a pivotal role in both what went on inside the building decades ago and what went on outside of it to save it.
She is our Extraordinary Person of the Week.
Hannah Block will always be music to to ears of Wilmington history. Her impact in the Cape Fear striking a colorful key. “Hannah came to Wilmington before WWII from a career as a nightclub singer, piano player, entertainer from New York,” Wilbur Jones said of his former neighbor.
Jones has a lifetime of memories with Hannah Block, aka, Mrs World War II Wilmington.
“We were neighbors in Forrest Hills,” he said.
The longtime friend finds pride in her legacy living on through the USO Building that bears her name. “She was a show lady,” Jones said, “and liked to put on performances and as a result she was attracted to this building and she gathered young ladies together to entertain the troops.”
Block was the first woman elected to Wilmington’s City Council. She was the first female Wilmington mayor pro tem, too. Also on the list of first, the first female head lifeguard in North Carolina, specifically, Carolina Beach. And she helped lead the way to save the very building she once performed in.
“She kept us focused,” Robin Dale Robertson said of her efforts to help him and his colleagues save the USO building from literally becoming history. “She would say ‘it was the masses, not the classes’. The ‘masses not the classes’ that dictated our focus, that kept us strong.”
Robertson saw her wisdom first hand. They shared a special connection as well. “Ironically,” he said, “the first time I ever met Hannah Block was on the stage at Thalian Hall doing My Fair Lady. I was Freddy Hill and she was cast as my mother.”
And while she is no longer with us, passing away in 2009, Hannah Block will always live on in the Port City for her extraordinary lifetime of accomplishments.
There is a special musical going on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to honor the 75 anniversary of the USO Building.
You can find all the details by clicking here.