Texas philanthropist and entrepreneur Bernard “B” Rapoport, an ardent supporter of the Blanton Museum of Art, passed away at the age of 94 on April 5, 2012, in Waco, Texas.
“Like so many people who had the good fortune to know him, I was inspired by his bright enthusiasm, skillfull leadership, belief in the value of education, and his support of the arts,” said Blanton Director Simone Wicha.
B served on The Blanton’s Museum Council (advisory group) since its inception in 2001 and was instrumental in fundraising for the two-building complex The Blanton occupies today. Helping to launch the building campaign, B and his wife Audre made a significant contribution to the museum that inspired many others to support the project. In their honor, the museum’s striking atrium was named the Audre and Bernard Rapoport Atrium.
“All of us at the museum are proud that every visitor who passes through the Rapoport Atrium will be reminded of his legacy for generations to come,” said Wicha.
Born in San Antonio on July 17, 1917, Rapoport learned from an early age the importance of family, community, generosity, and political freedom. His parents David and Riva Rapoport had fled Russia following their participation in the revolution of 1905, according to UT’s Briscoe Center for American History, which holds Rapoport’s papers and archive. In 1951, Rapoport co-founded the American Income Life Insurance Company in Indianapolis, Indiana with $25,000 and grew it into a multi-million dollar company at the time of its acquisition in 1994. An alumnus of The University of Texas at Austin who studied economics, Rapoport’s time at UT greatly influenced his success in life, according to the Briscoe Center. And his pride in his alma mater resulted in both financial and service contributions to the university.
“B had a profound effect on many institutions and people throughout his life including UT for which he had an enduring passion,” said Wicha. “Among his many contributions at the university that includes serving as Chairman of the Board of Regents, he was a tremendous advocate and supporter of The Blanton.”
UT and The Blanton mourn the loss of Rapoport and extend wholehearted condolences to the Rapoport family.