Updated 9:05 p.m. October 29, 1998
-- Sheriff Sherman Block, the longtime leader of
the nation's largest sheriff's department, died
Thursday night. He was 74.
Block passed away
at 7:52 p.m. at USC University Hospital due to
excessive bleeding in the brain, said sheriff's
Director Natalie Nacias. His family, including
wife Alyce, was at his side.
Block had a sudden and rapid deterioration in his
condition late this afternoon," Nacias said
at a news conference. "The official cause of
death was determined to be recurrent
Block's death came
just days after undergoing brain surgery to
remove a golfball-sized blood clot. A hospital
spokesperson told CBS 2 News Block was
recoverying well until his condition started
"He has been
an inspiration to us, and he is going to be
tremendously missed," Undersheriff Jerry
Harper said. "He has a list of
accomplishment in the service of the people of
this county that is unprecedented."
Block was in a
race for re-election to a fifth term against
former sheriff's Chief Lee Baca. Block's health
had been a major issue during the campaign.
problems in the department during his tenure,
Block avoided the kind of wrenching examinations
of leadership that engulfed higher-profile
counterparts at the Los Angeles Police
Department, reported The Associated Press.
"He was a law
enforcement legend without peer," said Jay
Grodin, personal friend of the Block family and
chair of the former sheriff's re-election
campaign. "The citizens of this county will
miss his firm leadership and steadiness in the
time of crisis."
He became the
nation's highest paid elected official, earning
$234,016 a year, said AP. Block oversaw 12,400
employees, including 8,000 deputies, throughout
"He was not
an armchair sheriff. He was involved in the
community, ...out in the evenings meeting with
the people," recalled county Supervisor Mike
Antonovich. "This is a big loss."
Block came to Los
Angeles from Chicago in the 1950s and worked his
way up department ranks, building an influential
roster of supporters, said the wire service.
County supervisors appointed Block to the vacant
sheriff's office in January 1982, and he was
first elected to the post later that year.
Over the years, he
earned a bachelor's degree in pollice science,
took graduate courses in public administration
and attended the FBI Academy in Quantico, VA. He
was the first deputy in the department to work
his way through each successive rank to become
created programs that have positively affected
the lives of hundreds of thousands of people
throughout the county -- especially young
people," Harper said. "He has left a
legacy of dedication to all of our communities
that will be remembered for years to come."
Block's name will
remain on the ballot for Tuesday's election.
According to Grodin, Block wanted the race to
continue regardless of what happened to his
Harper, along with
two other department heads, will fulfill the
sheriff's duties until the position is filled.