Carmi Rapport has passed. Everyone needs a hero, and he was mine. I loved the guy. He was a valued board member of WAMC/Northeast Public Radio, the public radio network that I run.
If there was a problem, Carmi was the guy you wanted in your corner. He was reasonable to the point of excess. He never left half armed, and because he was a lawyer’s lawyer, he had the ability to keep his clients (I’m not one) out of the kind of trouble people get into can sometimes be found.
Every small town in America, like Hudson, NY and surrounding Columbia County, has the lawyer. Oh, there are more, but anyone reading this knows exactly what I mean. For more than 50 years, Carmi was the go-to person if you really needed help.
Here’s just a story that makes my eyes water when I tell it (which is why I try not to tell it on the radio). I had another hero, a man named Aaron Mitrani. Aaron was a social worker who ran the Bronx House Emanuel Camps in Copake, NY for years. When Aaron was dying, he called me and asked me for a favor.
As I would have done anything for him, I decided to help him. It seemed like as a social worker he didn’t have a lot of money, but he had a house in Ancram, Columbia County. The will Aaron wrote with his first wife left the house to the offspring of the family. Aaron had remarried and upon his death his wife would have been left virtually destitute. So Aaron asked me to figure out how his second wife could have the house. Of course, not being a lawyer or even that smart, I called the only guy you go to, Carmi Rapport.
When I told Carmi what I needed, he replied, “Sure” and asked for Aaron’s address. When I told her, with some trepidation, that Aaron had very little money, Carmi said something like, “Shut up. That’s why I cry.
Next thing I know, Carmi went to Aaron’s and fixed everything. It’s Carmi and that’s why, despite a whole host of hungry for-profit lawyers coming to Hudson, Carmi has remained the best and most trusted lawyer around. It’s also why he has led the boards of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, Hudson’s Hospital, and countless other unpaid initiatives where he has distinguished himself.
At some point, Carmi decided he wanted to leave the law firm that had his name on the door. I have no idea what prompted him to do this, but knowing Carmi, I’m sure he had good reason to leave and request that his name be removed from the gate. Of course, I could guess that philosophical reasons had prompted him to leave. You know the world is not filled with Carmi Reports. His adult children adored him and he was very proud of them and their accomplishments.
Carmi’s name was therefore no longer on the door of the company he was responsible for creating. The reason this column is important is not just to honor a great man and his contributions, but also because I’m sure anyone reading this will know someone who left an indelible impression on their community and their life. Integrity is key. When it’s time to move on, they’ll know.
My feeling is that a higher power had an eye on Carmi and her wonderful wife, Lynn, and every once in a while a really good soul comes along and leaves us much richer. For that, I am grateful.