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The Rapoports & Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton; Rep. Chet Edwards; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi family. Carrying on B’s and Audre’s legacy is their son Ron, his wife Patricia, and their daughters, Abby and Emily. B’s close relationship with the Observer began 45 years ago. Always chronically strapped for money, the Observer had lost longtime benefactor Frankie Randolph. Texas labor unionist Fred Schmidt suggested to editor Ronnie Dugger that the Observer approach Fred’s close friend Bernard Rapoport, an insurance executive in Waco. In B’s memoir, Being Rapoport: Capitalist with a Conscience, he describes their meeting. Ronnie drove to Waco. B asked him if he wanted to buy any insurance. Ronnie declined and told B he wanted to solicit B’s financial support. He added a caveat: “After much thought, I’ve concluded that the whole process of insuring people’s lives should be socialized.” So began an enduring friendship between B and Dugger. Public service ads from American Income Life Insurance Co. provided the Observer a consistent revenue stream for almost 40 years. B used those ads to deliver a message, sometimes his own, sometimes from other people, but always a variation on a themethat a country built on principles of broad distribution of wealth made for a better society. The Observer fit naturally into B’s system of beliefs and values. When it was founded, it was the state’s only journalistic advocate for civil rights, civil liberties, social and economic justice, and the rights of working people. B’s connection with the Observer has been steady, if not always harmonious. As B wrote in Being Rapoport, “Anyone who thinks that giving the Observer a large amount of money over the years has bought me influence over editorial policies has not been paying attention.” On more than a few occasions, the Observer took a position or wrote a story that B thought was wrongheaded or flat-out wrong. One of those occasions brought B and Molly Ivins, already friends, closer. “In the spring of 1997 I told a writer for Texas Monthly magazine that I had terminated my support of the Observer … In the blink of an eye, my careless remark to Texas Monthly brought the formidable Ms. Molly Ivins to my office in Waco. Molly really did a number on me. Talk about feeling guilty for forsaking a cause. … Molly walked out of my office with a pledge of a $20,000 matching gift.” To the Observer’s good fortune, B frequently refers to John Dewey’s quote that “every government needs a minister of irritance,” and that’s how B sees The Texas Observer. He used the Birthday Bash to remind guests of the necessity of the Observer, and to thank them for their support. B’s speech to the crowd gathered at the home of Sen. Jay and Sharon Rockefeller capped an evening of deeply emotional and touching tributesfrom Rockefeller, Sen. Ted Kennedy, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, former University of Texas Chancellor Bill Cunningham, and the congressman representing both B Rapoport and George W. Bush, Chet Edwards. Who says irony is dead? B’s close friends Ben Barnes, Ambassador Lyndon Olson, and former Sen. Tom Daschle cochaired the Birthday Bash, with Barnes acting as emcee. The evening included an affectionate Happy Birthday video wish from former President Bill Clinton, and a particularly poignant video produced by Paul Stekler that included tributes from Luci Baines Johnson, Garry Mauro, Barnes, and Molly. Then came B’s granddaughters Abby and Emily. Their hilarious anecdotes captured his exuberant, irrepressible spirit. When Abby turned five, her grandfather called to say he was sending her a package of books. Abby waited in anticipation, imagining Alice in Wonderland or Anne of Green Gables. When it arrived, she opened it to find Richard Wright’s Native Son and Cervantes’ Don Quixote. With that introduction, admittedly a tough act to follow, B moved to the podium and humbled us with his words. “Since this is my 90th birthday, it’s time for me to remember what I owe and to whom and mostly to remind myself never to forget the many who have helped make possible this which I have achieved.” Praising family, friends, and colleagues, B paid special tribute to those who worked with him at American Income Life Insurance, the company that made his and Audre’s generous philanthropy possible. B’s remarks embodied the generosity of spirit, the passion for social justice, for which he is loved, admired, and emulated. He closed, “When we work together, we can achieve the requisites for a better society.” JULY 27, 2007 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 31