Howard Gerald Bock- 2/11/34-8/10/2018.
Where there is a will, there is a way. Howard Bock
My dad died on August 10, 2018, last Friday night. He was 84 years young, full of spirit and vigor his entire life. He moved to Las Vegas when he was in his twenties and worked different jobs as a cab driver, a craps dealer, and later a box man. Craps is a game where things move quickly and as a dealer, you have to be good at math to know the payouts. If winning players don’t get the right amount of money on a good roll, they can get a little perturbed. My dad started his business with my mom and it still exists today, nearly fifty years later. Most businesses don’t last three years, with something like an 80% failure rate.
As a boy growing up in Las Vegas, my dad worked very hard as the business was open seven days a week. Along with my brothers and sisters, we worked in the business doing odd jobs and became quite familiar with Fremont Street at an early age. He would take us on road trips to California to visit the beach and a ghost town called Calico Village, which still exists right outside of Barstow. As many parents know, kids get antsy on long road trips, typically asking, “When are we going to get there?” He would answer patiently and lovingly, “We are just a hop, skip, and a jump away.” With my dad, everything was always going to be OK. He had all kinds of witty sayings, including my favorite, which is, “By the inch, its a cinch, by the mile, it will take a while.”
Over the course of his business career, my father was quite entrepreneurial as he was able to successfully move the business, start new ones like a liquor and clothing store, and navigate the joys of a next door neighbor downtown named Steve Wynn. Yes, that Mr. Wynn, the noted woman's rights advocate. You see Stevie boy wanted my dad’s business gone, and yet he was permitted to move by the city council at the time, always an honorable crew. As I matured and later went to college and graduate school, I helped out during the once a year event known as New Year’s night. It used to be that Fremont Street was a drivable street and was not closed off, so liquor stores could fully participate selling alcohol to those who wanted to imbibe on New Years night. Let’s just say that it was a fun night, until of course, the politicians and publicly traded companies formed a quasi governmental agency known as the Fremont Street Experience, whose board is comprised of publicly traded casino executives. Guess what? No more fun on New Years night, unless of course, you paid for a pass to a roped off Fremont Street (where the publicly traded casinos line the walkway).
After joining the business because I decided teaching and coaching was a dead end, we tried a whole slew of different activities in the stores, including Western Union, ticketing, and other financing businesses. Some had more success than others, but my dad allowed me to learn about a wide variety of operations. Operational experience is quite important when evaluating potential investment opportunities, and that knowledge proves quite valuable even today. In time, my dad ran across other business legends, this time the restaurant and gaming legend known as Tillman Fertitta, now the owner of the Houston Rockets, which he paid a cool 2 billion for.
Howard loved to argue about politics, and I often think he should have pursued working in the political industry. My dad was also an avid baseball fan, and a reader of a wide variety of daily publications including the Wall Street Journal, NY Times, Las Vegas, Review Journal, and Barron’s. We used to read Alan Abelson’s weekly column together at the same time and enjoyed it immensely over the years. In this way I helped indoctrinate him to the joys of finance. He never got much into the market or understanding stocks. When I started writing my blog, he made sure he always wanted to read it, again showing his love and support for his son. Family always was the center of his life, and he worked 50 and 60 hours a week for many years to do the best he could for his family. He put all four kids through college, and three got graduate level degrees (myself included). There was not anything he did not do for us, up until last week.
A month ago, he fell and broke his shoulder. Statistics show that when the elderly fall and break a hip or a shoulder, many do not survive very long. Unfortunately, that was the case with my dad, and the quality of his medical care over the last month was quite poor on many different levels. Even until his last breath, I believed he would wind up being OK as he was always there for us. Remember, he lived by the creed everything would always be OK. Alas, this time it was different. My dad, my best friend, passed away last Friday night, and I will always be heartbroken I did not get another five or ten years with him. I truly believe with the proper care we would have had that time together. I know that he is still with me in spirit, and will always be. Looking into the future, I am sure he will help guide me to building Y H & C Investments the same way he built his business over forty five years. If you are interested in learning more about my dad, here is a link to his obituary.
Yale Bock, Y H & C Investments, its clients, and the family of Yale Bock have positions in the securities mentioned in the blog, Investing in securities involves risk and the potential loss of ones principal. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. All investment decisions should be considered with respect to ones risk tolerance, return objectives, liquidity needs, tax considerations, and one's overall financial situation. The fact that Yale Bock has earned the right to use the Chartered Financial Analyst in no way means or guarantee performance better than market indexes.