bernard rapoport

Founder of American Income Life


the story of bernard rapoport, founder of AIL

Bernard Rapoport founded American Income Life in 1951, and went on to become a noted philanthropist and author, working for the advancement of human rights, education and literacy.

Rapoport was born in San Antonio in 1917, and the Rapoport family faced difficult times during his early life (they were evicted from their home when he was just 6). The younger Rapoport worked his way through the University of Texas at Austin, however (he was a founding father of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity there), and succeeded in jewelry sales after earning his B.A. from UT.

Rapoport and his wife moved to San Antonio in 1949, where he began his career in life insurance. Rapoport’s uncle Harold Goodman then suggested that Rapoport start American Income Life, and the rest, as they say, is history: AIL took in $95,000 in premiums its first year and ten times that just two years later. By 1954, AIL was receiving 6,000 insurance applications a month, and by 1956 it was operating out of 96 General Agencies in 13 states.

Rapoport used his success to help others in need. With $46 million of his own money, he established the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation in 1987, benefiting childcare, education, the Waco community (he had moved his self, his family, and the company offices to Waco in 1958), and other enterprises. In 1991, Rapoport was appointed to a six-year term on the Board of Regents of the University of Texas system by Governor Ann Richards, and he served as Chairman from 1993 to 1997. Rapoport was named by Fortune Magazine as one of America's "40 most generous philanthropists," unstinting in his support for education and social justice. Throughout his life, Rapoport was an avid donor to the University of Texas system.

Rapoport was appointed by former President Bill Clinton as a member of the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations (ACTPN). He was a member of the Library of Congress Trust Fund Board, National Hispanic University Trustee Emeritus, Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Economic Policy Institute, National Jobs For All Coalition and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

You might say that American Income’s founder was able to “Do Good by Doing Well.”