American Income Life Founder Bernard “B” Rapoport, Success

American Income Life Founder B. Rapoport

American Income Life Founder B. Rapoport

How is success measured?
If by the obtainment of wealth, then Bernard “B” Rapoport is successful.

If by the happiness an individual possesses, then too can Mr. Rapoport claim success.

And if measured by the difference an individual has made, the people they have affected, and the legacy they leave behind, then B might just be one of the most successful Texans of the past century.

Long before he was a corporate CEO of American Income Life, human rights activist, and one of America’s most generous philanthropists, B was a central Texas adolescent living through the worst economic disaster in our country’s history. It was in the midst of the Great Depression that B, now 94 years old, first observed the rampant poverty and racial inequality that permeated through not only Texas, but the rest of the Western world. His parents, both Russian immigrants, were quick to educate B of the hardships faced by so many like themselves, and in doing so, they instilled a fiery passion for change in young Bernard Rapoport.

In September of 1936, B began studying economics at the University of Texas. Six years later, with a degree in hand and an increasingly business-savvy mind, B met Audre Newman, a Waco native who shared – and continues to share – a passion for political change with her now-husband. Upon marrying, the two relocated to San Antonio, where B’s business career and, soon after, philanthropic career began to take shape.

In San Antonio, B worked for a number of years selling insurance. It wasn’t long before B opened his own agency, Pioneer American, in Audre’s hometown of Waco. The venture proved to be so successful that by 1951 – only two years after starting the business – B, with the help of $25,000 borrowed capital, founded another business: American Income Life. AIL would grow exponentially over the following decade, and following a stint in Indianapolis, B moved the emerging business’ home down to familiar territory in Waco.

Business went well for B – very well. With his newfound wealth, B was given the opportunity to support the causes and issues that impacted him so strongly as a youth and continued to impact him into adulthood: poverty, immigration, workers’ rights, education. A lifelong Democrat, B’s support of populist and socialist causes – undeniably affected by his early studies of Marx – was not limited to simply contributions; B established relationships with several prominent Democratic leaders, affording him a hands-on opportunity to present his view of a better society to prominent lawmakers such as Senator Ted Kennedy, Senate majority leader Tom Daschle, and President Bill Clinton.

With B no longer at the helm of American Income Life, B assumed a more active role in philanthropy, using $46 million of his own money to establish the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation in 1986, its mission being to further promote peace, justice, and education. In addition to funding schools and youth programs in he and Audre’s hometown of Waco, the foundation funds scholarships to B’s beloved alma mater, the University of Texas, where B would serve as the University’s Board of Regents Chairman from 1993 to 1997.

B’s service and generosity to the University resulted in the Rapoport Center, an on-campus establishment that facilities dialogue among academics, advocates, and anyone else interested in combating the human rights violations and justice issues that Bernard “B” Rapoport has spent his life fighting against.

At 94 years young, B still resides in Waco alongside his wife of seven decades, Audre.

How would you personally define “success?” Would your definition include Bernard Rapoport? Would it include yourself? To learn more about the Bernard Rapoport charitable contributions visit the American Income Life official giving website.

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