Bernard Rapoport, Champion of Education, Dies at 94

April 6, 2012

AUSTIN, Texas — Bernard Rapoport, a Waco businessman who was active in higher education, politics, human rights and philanthropy, died Thursday, April 5.

Bernard Rapoport
Alumnus and philanthropist Bernard Rapoport.Photo: Marsha Miller

“The University of Texas and our state have lost a great friend who was relentless in his support of education, democracy, the arts and creating opportunity for the people of Texas,” said Bill Powers, president of The University of Texas at Austin. “When B Rapoport took an interest in something, he gave everything — his ideas, his vision, his energy and his money. He changed the lives of countless students, and he changed the university campus in countless ways.”

Rapoport earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from The University of Texas at Austin in 1939. He went on to serve as chairman of the University of Texas Board of Regents, as a member of the Commission of 125 and on many university advisory boards.

In 1997 he was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award, and the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Building on campus is named for him and his widow, as is the Rapoport Atrium in the Blanton Museum of Art. The couple established the Rapoport Endowment for International and Multidisciplinary Studies in the College of Liberal Arts, the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice in the School of Law, and an endowed professorship in health and social policy in the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. In addition, they supported many other scholarships and endowments.

Rapoport was born in 1917 in San Antonio to Jewish Russian immigrants. He once said, “During my childhood, my father taught me Marxism and hard work. My mother taught me to love learning. To know these simple facts is to know much about who I am and why I have led my life the way I have.”

In September 1936 he began the study of economics at The University of Texas at Austin, where, he later said, “my life really began.”

Rapoport’s memoir, "Being Rapoport: Capitalist with a Conscience," was published by the University of Texas Press in 2002. His papers and archives are housed in the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin.

“I’m honored to have enjoyed B’s friendship, and I will miss him,” said Powers. “My sympathy goes out to the Rapoport family.”

For more information, contact: Amy Crossette, University Communications, 512-573-1078.

16 Comments to "Bernard Rapoport, Champion of Education, Dies at 94"

1.  Bob Stoller said on April 6, 2012

Texas, and the world at large, has lost a great man. Although I never met him, I certainly benefited in myriad ways from his efforts and his generosity. In addition to the many accomplishments listed above, he was a founding father of the UT chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi, where I (and many others) grew from boys to men while students at The University. My fraternity brothers (and I), as well as the rest of The University community, are better because of his good works.

2.  Bob Van Heuvelen said on April 6, 2012

B Rapoport had a love of people and of learning that is hard to even imagine. His warmth and generosity are legendary. I count myself lucky to have known B and share his family's grief at his passing. We will miss B!

Bob Van Heuvelen

3.  Bruce Neatherlin said on April 6, 2012

My work at time called for me to travel as I trained our outside sales force. On many many Fridays as I caught the last plane to Waco from Dallas Mr, B would be on the plane as well. Just us. I ask him once his plan for success. He said as he looked up from his book, "Start early and stay late."

4.  Joe Stolarski said on April 6, 2012

A great and good man has passed.

I didn't agree with all his political views, but he was a true idealist with a good heart. Everything he did was to help his fellow man. Personally, he did a lot for my wife's family and he was always kind to me. Go with G*d, Mr. B.

5.  max said on April 6, 2012

good works

6.  Mary Darden said on April 7, 2012

Bernard Rapoport was a hero. Although he accumulated a great fortune and recognition in his life, he never lost his heart for the less privileged and less fortunate in the world.

I had the very great fortune to be one of a dozen scholars and one of the only women who were privileged to know him and meet with him several times each year for a luncheon-discussion of what was important in the world. Mr. Rapoport had a profound impact on me. He inspired me to be fearless – to stand up in the face of adversity. He was a shining example to me of what we all should be in this life.

Mr. Rapoport gave generously of himself and his assets to help others who were less fortunate, and particularly those who needed a helping hand to achieve their potential. When I wrote my firsts and – thus far – only book, he read it and wrote a review – even though I was a “nobody” in the economic, political or academic world. When he saw potential, he encouraged and nurtured that potential. He has done this for the many thousands of people who have crossed his path.

For the many people who live on the west side of San Antonio where he grew up on the poor side of town, he was responsible – as Chair of the Regents for the University of Texas -- for bringing higher education to so many.

If you know his name, I am quite certain that you have a reason to be grateful for this amazing man. I am grateful. And I will miss him. He has, certainly, contributed to the potential of this one small life. And I believe that the world is a better place because of him.

Thank you. And bless you for your heart and your gifts,

Dr. Mary Landon Darden
Concordia University Texas San Antonio Center
Alumna of the UT System

7.  SAMUEL RAY,J said on April 7, 2012

I met Mr. Rapoport in Waco, TX a few years back when I was an active police officer in the Waco area. He was extremely friendly and seemed to be a very sure person, a person that knows where he has been, and where he was heading. Very simple, but, ahead of so many. God has a special leader of people in the kingdom tonight. God bless to the Rapoport family and friends. Rest in peace: Amen.

8.  Marisol Sanchez said on April 7, 2012

As a former Rapoport Scholar and UT grad, this news saddens me. I had the honor of meeting Mr. Rapoport and his wife a few years ago during a dinner where he invited the Rapoport Scholars to his house. His love for education, people and humble spirit will always be remembered. If there is leadership I admire, it is the servant-leadership that Mr. Rapoport possessed. He was well connected with the community he served because he worked hard and understood the value of sacrifice. My life was enhanced because of his contributions. Great man.

9.  Red Goldstein said on April 9, 2012

I met Mr. Rapoport several years ago during some duties as a Merrill Lynch adviser. Before meeting with him, I read his book ‘Being Rapaport-Capitalist with a Conscience’. His story was one that truly speaks to the heart of the intellectual struggle through the left, bouncing off to the right, and settling in the middle where tikkun olam and profits converge. I recommend his book to anyone who has ever cared about how to (and how not to) serve fellow man while attaining profits at the same time. We have lost a giant.

10.  darrell dorey said on April 9, 2012

I live and work in Nova scotia canada and thanks to Benards vision many years ago I have enjoyed a very good life being able to provide for my family in a style he woyuld have said was good and I have always worked with his simple thoughts in mine.
Make a promise , keep a promise, that was the bases on which he governed his life.
He will be missed
Darrell and Debbie Dorey

11.  Lauren Birks said on April 9, 2012

I never had the opportunity to meet Mr. Rapoport. But I am truly grateful for all he has provided me. From the day I learned about the Rapoport Service Scholarship at Freshmen Orientation Summer 2008, I knew it was more than a scholarship and it has continued to hold true to that. Being a Rapoport Scholar has taught me so much about myself and others; it has opened so many doors. Thank you Mr. Rapoport for working hard, never giving up, and being so dedicated to given back to students education and future.

12.  Angelica said on April 10, 2012

Mr. Rapoport was an extraordinary man. He was a great inspiration to me, and will always be. He gave me the gift of a true education, and I will be forever grateful for that. It is because of him that I know the value of an education, and the reason for why I enjoyed mine as much as I did. He will always be in the hearts of many. May his spirit live on in those of us whose lives he has touched.

13.  Kay Uptmore said on April 11, 2012

I remember seeing Mr. Rapoport at a Waco Goodwill store unloading a donation, driving a well-used older vehicle much like the one I was driving. I was there as a single mom shopping for clothes and I wanted to thank him for the scholarship money my son had received because of his generosity through the Waco Foundation. He didn't seem to want to acknowledge my speech just nodded his head. I saw a man who was demonstrating his view on life by his actions. Not interested in the recognition only in the need that he saw around him. He and his wife helped so many others to live decent lives able to realize their dreams for themselves and their children. He was the ultimate investor planning always for the next project and always able to see the big picture. I will be one of so many who will remain grateful for the vision of Mr Rapoport and his wife.

14.  Robert Freeman said on April 12, 2012

A truly great Texan has left us, but we are much the better for his stay among us, giving as generously as he and Audrey have to the City of Waco, to the State of Israel, to the Democratic Party, and to the University of Texas at Austin.
The last time I had the privilege to have lunch with B was in a relatively simple restaurant near his office, for his club was closed for the day. We were served by a pregnant, teenage waitress, whom B had not met before. When he asked whether she was going to college, she looked deprecatingly at her midriff, responding that she did not see how she could do so. Said B, "My office is in the building just south of here, across the parking lot. Please tell my assistant that, if you can get into UT, I will pay your tuition bills. If you go to college your life will belong to you; if you don't, you will miss life's greatest opportunities."
What a man!

15.  Mike Frisch said on April 12, 2012

B. was a great friend and inspiration to many of us at Baylor. We miss him and honor him, his family, and all of the causes he served and believed in.

16.  Charlie Morris said on April 15, 2012

Wonderful man who knew how to live in a capitalistic economy & serve his fellow man with a conscience. Worked @ American Income Life just out of Baylor in 1970 mailroom. I delived the interoffice mail first thing. Problem was we received specimen bottles that dampened the day. One morning in his office, 'Mr. Rapoport, it's a bit soggy out'. Mr B~'Oh boy, thanks for the warning' Great sense of humor! I was lucky to have crossed his path. Best to the family!!!