Bernard Rapoport lived the American Dream. Born to Russian Jewish immigrant parents in San Antonio, Texas, in 1917, he grew up in poverty and worked his way through the University of Texas during the Great Depression. In 1951 he founded the American Income Life Insurance Company, which he developed into a multi-million dollar business. Using his wealth to support a host of local, national, and international organizations, Rapoport was named by Fortune magazine as one of America’s forty most generous philanthropists, unstinting in his support for education, social justice, and liberal political causes.
In this memoir, Rapoport recalls a life of hard work and a philosophy of giving that made him a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist. He explains how his early experiences of poverty and his youthful acquaintance with Marxists and New Deal economists shaped him into a capitalist with a conscience. Rapoport goes on to describe his liberal activism as a supporter of Democrats from Ralph Yarborough to Tom Daschle to his good friends Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton, an underwriter of the political journal The Texas Observer, a regent of the University of Texas System, a supporter of the state of Israel, and a champion of at-risk students.
Bernard Rapoport was head of the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation in Waco, Texas.
Don E. Carleton is Executive Director and J. R. Parten Fellow in the Archives of American History and Ben F. Love Fellow in Communication at the Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin.