B Rapoport’s Legacy

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Everyone at the Observer was tremendously saddened to learn of the passing late last night of Bernard Rapoport—our board member, great friend and supporter—at age 94.

A public memorial service for B will be held at noon on Wednesday, April 11, at the Masonic Grand Lodge of Texas (715 Columbus Ave.) in Waco. The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, you make a donation to the Rapoport Scholars Program at the University of Texas, or to The Texas Observer.

B supported the Observer for decades and helped it through some lean years. Put simply, this magazine probably wouldn’t exist without his long-time financial contributions.

Of course, he didn’t just support the Observer. It would be impossible to compile a comprehensive list of all the political campaigns and good causes B supported, and all the lives he changed. To understand what this great man was about and why he did what he did, I suggest you read former Observer editor Lou Dubose’s wonderful appreciation.

As Lou writes—and a long line of Observer editors, myself included, will confirm— B never tried to influence the Observer’s editorial content, despite his generous contributions.

B explained his support for this cantankerous, investigative publication in a 1979 op-ed that we’ve unearthed from our archives and posted on our website here: “As one who has been deeply involved with the paper, I love it because I can’t tell anybody on the Observer what to do or say. This makes me know positively that no one else can. That’s why I am so supportive and shall continue to be in the future… .

“What I like best about The Texas Observer is that it is the most unpolluted institution in Texas. John Dewey once mentioned that one of his favorite quotations was ‘Every government needs a minister of irritance.’ The Texas Observer has fulfilled that need for many years in Texas, and what I hope is that it will continue to do so in the years to come.”

Indeed it has. We’ll be posting more tributes to B in the coming days. But perhaps the best tribute we can offer is our very existence. All the great journalism the Observer has done (and will do) would never have been possible without B Rapoport.

Dave Mann has been with the Observer since 2003. Before that, he worked as a reporter in Fort Worth and Washington, D.C. He was born and raised in Philadelphia. He thinks border collies are the world’s greatest dogs, and believes in the nourishing powers of pickup basketball.