A Eulogy for American Income Life Founder Bernard Rapoport (1917-2012)
American Income Life lost its beloved founder, Bernard Rapoport, on Thursday, April 5th, 2012. Mr. Rapoport passed away peacefully in his sleep at the age of 94. To read about his life and accomplishments, click here.
American Income Life CEO Roger Smith was one of the speakers at a memorial service held at the Masonic Lodge in Waco, Texas on Wednesday, April 11th. The following is a transcription of his remarks:
“I hope I moved to the podium with alacrity. That is what B would always say to me at the SGA meeting when I would get up to speak. “Roger, could you please move with some alacrity?” I didn’t know if I should hop, skip, limp, go faster, go slower, because I just didn’t know the definition of all these big words he would use. So, I’ve got it B: I have moved to the podium with brisk enthusiasm.
This morning I am selfishly pissed off. Yes, I am sad, and yes, there is a huge gaping hole in my heart. But I’m also angry. Angry that I won’t be able to continue some of the rituals that B and I had.
Every couple of weeks I would fly into Waco and have lunch in his office. He would order the most gosh awful junk food. You know, things like chili cheese dogs, and we would sit there for an hour and just talk American Income Life.
This was his baby and he was so proud of its achievements. But there was another reason why those lunches were so important to me, and that was no matter what was going on in my life, B was my biggest cheerleader.
He would say to me “Roger you are such a genius!” Only out of B’s mouth would my name and the word genius come out in the same sentence. He just had this knack of making us feel better about ourselves.
It didn’t matter whether you were the waitress at the Outback restaurant or the President of the United States, you always felt better about yourself after spending time with B.
For many of us, it wasn’t only about feeling good, it was about his deep belief in our ability – even when we didn’t believe in ourselves.
It was his willingness to invest in the human spirit that was the major building block of American Income Life.
Oh, I’m not saying the road was always smooth. In fact, I think he terminated me twice, maybe 3 times. But he always brought us home. For many of us B was our 2nd father and for some of us, he was our only father figure.
We were a pretty wild group of young guys, so one day he might be motivating us and the next day he might be bailing one of us out. Sure, there was plenty of scolding, but there were also the lessons of compassion and commitment, of perseverance and of loyalty.
I know, B, you might have thought by our actions that we weren’t getting it, but we were. Slowly but surely, till it would become a part of our heart and our soul, and those lessons would grow us into who we are today.
For those of you with American Income Life, Mr. Rapoport was so very proud of you. From the administration to the sales force, from the SGAs to the executives, he really, really loved you and respected you.
Not only did he feel secure that his Company would be in safe hands, but that it would flourish even in the worst of times. He was at peace knowing that his core philosophies of giving back into the community, of protecting and fighting for workings families would continue to be a part of American Income Life’s core existence.
He often missed you as much you missed him.
And so, B, I want you to know something: we will ALWAYS try to make you proud of us. We will ALWAYS try to live up to what you called us, “The World’s Greatest Sales Force.” We will ALWAYS provide Opportunity Unlimited, and we will ALWAYS love you, cherish the time we had with you, and miss you dearly.”