Miller Center

John Block (1981–1986) - Secretary of Agriculture

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John Rusling Block was born in 1935 in Galesburg, Illinois. He grew up on his father’s Galesburg farm but attended school at West Point, graduating in 1957. For the next three years, Block served as a platoon leader in the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Following his service, Block returned home to the family farm, greatly expanding the operation. He became the Illinois state secretary of agriculture in 1977, at the governor’s request, before becoming President Ronald Reagan’s secretary of agriculture in 1981. Block served until he resigned in 1986. Most recently, John Rusling Block has served as president of Food Distributors International.

Citation Information

Consulting Editor

Lou Cannon

Mr. Cannon is the author of nine books, five of them on Ronald Reagan, and has been called Reagan’s definitive biographer. As a journalist, he covered the Reagan presidency for The Washington Post and the Reagan governorship of California for the San Jose Mercury-News. His books on Reagan include:

Reagan’s Disciple: George W. Bush’s Troubled Quest for a Presidential Legacy (Co-authored with Carl M. Cannon, PublicAffairs, 2008)

Governor Reagan: His Rise to Power (PublicAffairs, 2003)

Ronald Reagan: The Presidential Portfolio (PublicAffairs, 2001)

President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime (Simon and Schuster 1991, PublicAffairs, 2000)

Reagan (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1982)