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Why Giving to AXP Is an Easy Decision for Jim Rappaport

Even though he graduated in just three years, Jim Rappaport ’77 has no shortage of great memories from AXP. Some of his favorites include playing basketball relentlessly in the side parking lot, and “Mister E,” the house dog named for the fact that no one had any idea where he had come from. He also remembers having an excellent cook, so most of the brothers ate at the house every night. But naturally, they still made regular runs to Pat’s. In fact, one of Jim’s favorite memories is of a night returning from the beloved cheesesteak restaurant.

“In the midst of the Star Wars opening craze with two-hour lines, we saw no line in front of a theater on Walnut, so we parked in front, jumped out, and bought the last tickets to see the movie,” he recalls. “We were in the front row, which after a few beers and a Pat’s steak or two was very interesting indeed.”

Jim graduated from Penn in just three years, then attended law school at Boston University. He has since had a sprawling career as a lawyer, real estate developer, and entrepreneur. He has founded and served on the boards of numerous successful companies over the years, and after retiring from his real estate company, he now consults with families and family businesses to help them articulate and achieve their goals. Interestingly, Jim credits a unique AXP experience with helping him to develop the problem-solving skills that he turned into such a successful career.


“I took on the role of bar steward at AXP, and turned around a budget line item that had been costing the fraternity almost $1,000 to not costing them anything,” he says. “So I learned to take on problems and solve them.”

Philanthropy has also been a priority for Jim throughout his career. He has served on many non-profit boards, including the Rappaport Charitable Foundation, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Children’s Hospital, the Sedona Community Foundation, and Combined Jewish Philanthropies. He was one of the first people to raise over $1 million for the Pan-Mass Challenge, a 200-mile bike ride benefiting cancer research. And he continues to generously give back to Phi Phi Club, including his endowment of the Rappaport Scholarship.

“Whenever I return to AXP when the scholarship is being presented, I am always pleased with the quality of the young men that I meet,” Jim says.

Jim with Patriots Wide Receiver Danny Amendola after their Super Bowl win this year

Though he hasn’t been all too happy with the recent direction of some things at Penn, he says, supporting Phi Phi Club has been an easy decision. He has been pleased with the programs AXP has undertaken over the years in giving back to the community and taking care of the house, and he is proud that he and other brothers from the ’70s have played a part in maintaining the Phi Phi experience.

“If, in some small way, we have maintained the opportunity for these young people to have the fraternity experience, then we did our job,” he says.

Today, Jim and his wife Cecelia split their time between Boston and California, and travel to see their three children and two grandchildren as often as they can. Jim is fortunate to have his 90-year-old father still with him, who he also tries to see as much as possible. Last month, he had a great visit with Greer Cheeseman ’77, who he hadn’t seen in years.

“Now that I am 61, I focus most of my leisure time on spending time with my family and going to games,” Jim says. “Go Sox and go Pats!”