Remembering Michael Rapier of New Orleans, Former Trustee

December 15, 2020

A staunch supporter of higher education, Michael Rapier is remembered at Mary Baldwin for his 10 years of devoted service on the Board of Trustees. The investment banker and lifelong resident of New Orleans died on December 6 at the age of 84.

With keen wit and generous warmth, he brought extensive business expertise to Mary Baldwin from his decades-long career, first, as a bank executive and, second, as principal in his own investment-holding firm, Michael J. Rapier Investments. His board tenure included service on the Executive Committee, Endowment Committee, and as chair of the Business, Finance, and Audit Committee.

Before being elected as a Trustee in 1996, Rapier served as a member of the Parents Council in support of his daughter, Jane Rapier Spence ’98.

He also supported Mary Baldwin through contributions to the Baldwin Fund and to scholarship, innovation, and campaign initiatives, and generously opened his home to host parties and receptions for alumni and friends.

Through his esteemed professional and civic life in New Orleans, Rapier brought recognition and renown to Mary Baldwin.

“I felt especially fortunate to work with Michael and to know him very well,” said President Pamela Fox. “I turned to him constantly for advice and also for his constantly positive and reassuring manner. It was a special occasion always to visit with Michael and Kay in New Orleans, and it was a privilege to work closely with Jane as she served her alma mater as a major gift officer. Michael made a lasting difference to Mary Baldwin.”

For the city’s Mardi Gras celebration in 2005, Rapier was chosen as Rex, King of Carnival, a high civic honor that comes with presiding over one of the day’s most celebrated parades. 

The next year, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, he was named the honorary chairman of Operation Pro Bono Publico, which the Rex organization formed to support clean-up and rebuilding efforts. Now the Pro Bono Publico Foundation, the organization has awarded grants of $8.5 million for educational initiatives.

Rapier also sat on the boards of Fidelity Homestead Association, Biloxi Marsh Lands Inc., the Ochsner Clinic Foundation, Loyola University, the Academy of the Sacred Heart, Children’s Hospital, and De La Salle High School. 

He is survived by his wife, Mettha Kathryn “Kay” Rapier; his two sons, Michael Joseph Rapier Jr. and James Westfeldt Rapier; his daughter, Spence; and six grandchildren.