In the space of a week, the Texas Exes have lost more than one giant. Late last night, we also lost big-hearted philanthropist Bernard Rapoport, BA ’39, Life Member.
Born in 1917 to Russian immigrants, Rapoport grew up to found American Income Life Insurance in 1951 and build it into a $560 million company. He turned around and used that wealth to better society, being named on of the country’s “40 Most Generous Philanthropists” by Fortune magazine.
It’s hard to sum up what made Rapoport such a standout Longhorn in one story, but here are a few of his many contributions to the state and to The University of Texas, his alma mater. The Waco businessman:
- Chaired the Board of Regents from 1993-97.
- Was named a Distinguished Alumnus in 1997.
- Donated more to UT than can be fully quantified, including endowed professorships and a $10 million gift to the College of Liberal Arts.
- Was an active Democratic donor but able to work across party lines to support his University. Together with longtime Republican Wales Madden, Raport co-chaired the Friends of the University of Texas System Political Action Committee for years.
- Started a generous family foundation and, in his memoir, described his approach as working to be a “capitalist with a conscience.”
UT lost a great friend in Rapoport, who was known to friends simply as B, President Bill Powers said in a statement.
“When B Rapoport took an interest in something, he gave everything—his ideas, his vision, his energy, and his money,” Powers said. “He changed the lives of countless students, and he changed the university campus in countless ways. I’m honored to have enjoyed B’s friendship, and I will miss him.”
Photo by Marsha Miller