Susan Rasky, who died at 61 of breast cancer this week, was one of those force-of-nature type people who had the knack of sweeping into a room and sweeping you right along with whatever she was doing, saying or thinking.
The 20-plus years of UC Berkeley J-School students lucky enough to have her as an instructor had the chance to learn from a pro not only how important, but also how much fun, the job of being a political reporter could be, as anyone who was ever dragooned into speaking to her class can attest.
Of course, Susan had a big advantage over many journalism school chrome domes — she’d actually spent years learning the craft while working in the trenches of daily journalism. Before returning to California, where she was born, and to Berkeley, where she got her BA, Susan had covered Congress for years for several news organizations, including Reuters and the NYT, and won a prestigious Polk Award for her work at the Times.
“Susan was a tenacious journalist and a great educator,” veteran Sacto and Capitol Hill hand H.D. Palmer recalled to us, “and truly a guide and mentor to a generation of journalists from Berkeley who will, as Mr. Dooley said, ‘comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable’ in a proper journalistic manner, on account of her guidance, support, and counsel.”
We’ll miss seeing her at state conventions, bustling into press conferences and speeches, trailed by a gaggle of would-be political reporters, whom she’d brought along from campus to push straight into the pond of real-life politics, and to see the ladies and gentlemen of the press actually (or in some cases, allegedly) working. Godspeed, Susan.