Carroll Brock, a prominent Northern California homebuilder whose family-owned company built thousands of Larchmont Homes in the Sacramento region, died Oct. 31 of natural causes in his sleep, his son Steve said. He was 88.
Mr. Brock led the Northern California division of M.J. Brock & Sons Inc., a Los Angeles-based firm that rode the post-World War II housing boom to be one of the top builders in the country. The company moved into Sacramento in 1952 to meet pent-up demand for affordable housing near McClellan Air Force Base and began developing the Larchmont Village subdivision in North Highlands.
Under Mr. Brock, who was named Sacramento general manager in 1967, Larchmont Homes built nearly 15,000 houses in more than 30 subdivisions of modest ranch-style homes aimed mostly at first-time buyers. The company was a leader in the local market, employing hundreds of unionized construction workers who turned out 750 homes annually during peak years in the late 1970s.
“Carroll was a very good competitor,” said Jim Streng, a retired homebuilder and former Sacramento County supervisor. “People who bought (Larchmont) homes were happy that they bought them. Larchmont had good business people, and they were good citizens of the community.”
Mr. Brock previously served on the board of the National Association of Home Builders in Washington and was a past president of the North State Building Industry Association. In 1982, Gov. Jerry Brown appointed him to the state Board Standards Commission. In 1991, he was inducted into the California Building Industry Association Hall of Fame.
He was a leader in the business community as president of the Sacramento Area Commerce and Trade Commission and vice president of the Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. Besides volunteering as a top fundraiser and advisory board member for the Salvation Army, he led a Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church committee that oversaw construction of a new sanctuary in the 1980s and served on the national board of Young Life, a Christian youth organization.
“My dad was a humble leader,” his son said. “As successful as he was at building homes, he felt just as strongly about serving others.”
Carroll Eugene Brock was born in 1926 in Los Angeles. He was the youngest of three sons who went into business with their father, M.J. Brock, a former Pacific Electric Railway conductor who started a construction company that grew to include operations in California, Colorado, Pennsylvania and Florida.
Starting as a carpenter, Carroll Brock joined the company in 1948 after serving in the Army Air Corps and moved to Sacramento in 1959. He took over as general manager of Sacramento operations after the death of his brother Wendell and rose to senior vice president of M.J. Brock & Sons Inc. in 1977.
Besides building homes, he ventured into broadcasting in the 1970s to start KNCO AM and FM radio stations in Grass Valley. He joined partners in buying and refurbishing the historic Bret Harte Hotel in Grass Valley into a senior residential complex.
Mr. Brock, who retired in 1986 to run unsuccessfully for Sacramento County supervisor, received numerous industry and civic honors. Although widely respected as an influential homebuilder and business leader, he was a modest, low-key man who enjoyed playing golf, avoided social gatherings and told The Sacramento Bee in 1981 that business calls to his home had “better be darn important.”
“You read stories about executives who work 72 hours a week. They are driven, but I don’t have that,” he said. “I firmly believe that you can have success without the killer instinct. I think it’s more important to have a good relationship with your wife.”
Mr. Brock is survived by his wife, Eve. He previously was married for 54 years to the former Dorothy Mason, until her death in 2002. They had four children, including a son, Larry, who died in childhood of leukemia.
He also is survived by two sons, Steve and Rick; a daughter, Susan Johnson; and five grandchildren.
A memorial service is set for 2 p.m. Friday at Pleasant Grove Community Church in Roseville. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the National Leukemia Society.
Call The Bee’s Robert D. Dávila, (916) 321-1077. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Davila.