Bernard Rapoport was born to Russian immigrant parents. Bernard’s father had fled Russia in 1910 by walking 600 miles from Siberia to Belgium. Through the help of Good Samaritans and relatives, David Rapoport made the long journey to San Antonio, Texas, where he met his wife, Reva.
Growing up, Bernard struggled through poverty, eviction from his home, anti-Semitism, and the Great Depression. Bernard paid for college by working at a jewelry store and earned a B.A. in Economics from the University of Texas at Austin in 1939. In 1942, Bernard met Audre Newman, his future wife.
After working in the jewelry industry for several years, Bernard began selling insurance and realized he had a gift for helping to protect working class Americans. By the end of his first year, Bernard had opened his own insurance agency in Waco, Texas. With $25,000 of borrowed capital, Bernard started American Income Life in 1951.
In 1961, American Income Life began focusing on the niche market of labor unions. In 1973, AIL earned the official designation as a Union Label company by the AFL-CIO. In 1994, Bernard Rapoport sold American Income Life to Torchmark Corporation (NYSE: TMK). He remained on board as Chairman Emeritus and appointed Roger Smith as President and CEO.
Bernard was determined to use his success and financial gain to help and support others. Bernard and his wife, Audre, founded the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation to provide grants to help improve social conditions throughout the world.
Bernard worked to support his foundation and American Income Life until he passed away in 2012 at the age of 94.
“In order to give light to others, you must first set fire to yourself.”