Susan Rasky, a senior lecturer in the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley after a career in government reporting at the New York Times, died on Dec. 29 after a long illness. She was 61. In more than two decades at Berkeley she helped train a generation of journalists, immersing them in the nuances and ethics of political and government reporting. Many of her former students have taken to social media this week to mourn her passing and sing her praises. "The most profound influence of my career," wrote John Myers, political editor of the ABC-TV affiliate in Sacramento. "Susan became a guiding force in my professional life in August 1993 and never waivered in her willingness to advise, promote and tutor my work as a political reporter." There are more quoted in a piece posted on the Berkeley website. Part of the post:
Susan F. Rasky, an award-winning Congressional reporter who returned to her native California to teach at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism for more than two decades, died Sunday following a long illness. She was 61.
As a teacher, she was known for her passion for politics and her attentiveness to her students. Her connection to her students often extended years past their graduation.
A Los Angeles native, Ms. Rasky received a bachelor’s degree in history from Berkeley in 1974. She then traveled to England where she earned a master’s degree in economic history from the London School of Economics.
"We'll miss Susan so much," said Dean Ed Wasserman. "She was deeply intelligent, caring, insightful, passionate and uncompromising. She personified what's best about journalism and what's noblest about our aspirations. And she was a great pleasure to talk to and listen to. I'm very sorry she's gone."
She began her journalism career in Washington at the Bureau of National Affairs, covering economic policy, and five years later she moved to Reuters where she reported from Capitol Hill and the White House. In 1984, she joined the New York Times, where she worked as an editor and reporter in both New York and Washington. Ultimately, she became the Congressional correspondent for the Times.
In 1991, she came back to Berkeley to teach journalism, at first in a temporary capacity and eventually as a full-time senior lecturer. Within three months of her arrival at Berkeley, she was notified that she had won a George Polk award for national reporting, among the most prestigious prizes in journalism, for work she had done the previous year.
The awards committee cited Ms. Rasky and her colleague David Rosenbaum for "meticulously and insightfully" covering the “greatest budget debate that has ever taken place in the United States."
Moving effortlessly from the newsroom to the classroom, Ms. Rasky left an enduring imprint on a generation of students. In her years at Berkeley, she specialized in teaching political and government reporting-- the foundational courses of the school since it began 20 years earlier.
"She was a great reporter,"said Peter Schrag, the retired editorial page editor of the Sacramento Bee. "I was close to things in Sacramento for 20 years, but I learned a helluva lot from her about the things I thought I already knew." Berkeley says that a funeral service will be held Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at Fernwood Cemetery in Mill Valley. A memorial service will be held later in the winter on campus.
Here's an obituary at Capitol Weekly.
* Added: Mark Z. Barabak adds details in his LA Times obituary: Rasky went to Fairfax High here in Los Angeles and had breast cancer. "Rasky was a familiar sight at California political events, wrestling an armload of papers and trailing a gaggle of students, whom she nudged to join in news conferences and panel discussions."