University of Texas president William Powers stood before a dozen TV cameras outside the Supreme Court Building, discussing the affirmative-action case that had just been argued before the justices, when a slight man approached from the right and said: “The plaintiff is here. Please, let the plaintiff speak.”
I came to know Bernard Rapoport when he was chair of the University of Texas System Board of Regents, and I was editor of The Texas Observer in the early 1990s. One of our writers was reporting on a story about conflicts of interest within the UT administration. When the university president ignored our requests for what we believed was public information, we did what reporters do. We sent a Texas Public Information Act request letter to each member of the Board of Regents—including board Chair Bernard Rapoport.
B—who passed away late Thursday night in Waco — had been the Observer’s most generous and dependable financial supporter since the 1960s. The University of Texas Board of Regents was the only political appointment he’d ever wanted, and he went at it with the enthusiasm, intelligence and energy he had devoted to American Income Life — the insurance company he and his wife Audre started with a $25,000 investment in 1951.