Jerry Rappaport

Jerome “Jerry” Rappaport, an esteemed philanthropist, political reformer and developer, passed away at the age of 94 at his home in Lincoln with his best friend and partner in life Phyllis at his bedside.

Rappaport was a resident of Stuart, Florida, with homes in Lincoln and Nantucket. Rappaport spent nearly a century fighting for better government, better housing, and better communities, while also paving the way for tomorrow’s progress in public policy, medicine, and the arts.

Born in the Bronx, New York, Rappaport arrived in Massachusetts as a 16-year-old Harvard undergrad, and he went on to become a political activist, attorney, real estate developer and one of Boston’s most influential philanthropists.

His impact spanned nine decades and included founding the Harvard Law School Forum in 1946 at the age of 18; orchestrating John Hynes’ improbable mayoral victory in 1949; creating the New Boston Committee of political activists to clean up Boston’s corrupt governance; developing the 48-acre urban neighborhood known as Charles River Park as part of Boston’s West End Project; and serving as founder and senior partner of the law firm of Rappaport, Aserkoff & Gelles.

Rappaport’s philanthropic efforts poured tens of millions of dollars into the wide range of causes supported by him and his family, both in Greater Boston and the Treasure Coast region
of Florida.

The crown jewel of these endeavors is the Phyllis and Jerome Lyle Rappaport Foundation, founded in 1997 to support public policy, medical research, and the arts.

Over the last forty years, the Foundation has donated over $40 million to those three disciplines, and Mr. Rappaport personally has donated more than $30 million to those and other causes, with a majority of the donations having supported the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at Harvard Kennedy School, the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy at Boston College Law School and McLean Hospital. Through these philanthropic investments, he encouraged and educated hundreds of committed and innovative young minds poised to fulfill the drive for new and emerging leaders now and well into the future.

And in 2015, on the occasion of his 88th birthday celebration, the Boston City Council declared August 17, 2015 to be “Jerry Rappaport Day.”

In addition to his wife Phyllis, Mr. Rappaport is survived by 11 children.

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