Larry’s “Brothers”

When Larry Rasky married our sister, Carolyn, on January 25, 1986, in the Dickens Room at the Parker House Hotel in downtown Boston, we aren’t sure Larry understood he wasn’t just marrying Carolyn, but all of us. He grew up with a loving and adoring younger sister, but now he inherited four protective brothers. David had T-shirts made up for Larry and Carolyn to mark the occasion, “The Rasky’s and the Patsky’s,” as the next day the Pats would play the Bears in the Super Bowl. That evening, then State Senator Paul White married Larry and Carolyn, and through the years when Larry would see Senator White he would always say, “You were there on the happiest day of my life.”

It was one of the happiest days of our lives as well, because for the next 34 years, we had the privilege of having Larry as our brother. There isn’t enough space to tell all our stories about Larry, or Larry Legend as one of his nephews fondly refers to him. So below are just a few of our stories that hopefully give you a sense of how we all came to love our brother Larry.

Russ Eckel (Carolyn’s twin): Our wonderful “brother” Larry lived with purpose, and to me his purpose was to make a guesthouse for others no matter where he was at any moment. Whether at home with Carolyn or out in the world somewhere, Larry always made room for all of us to enjoy our time together, often sharing wonderful meals and great conversation. Like all good “innkeepers,” Larry listened to others. I especially enjoyed that he loved to listen to his many nieces and nephews, who would share their ideas, challenges, and victories with him, anticipating his wise counsel and support. 

Larry also took great delight in the improbable and the unexpected. I recall a round of golf with Dave, Paula, Larry and myself late in the fall of 2019. We were all standing on the tee of a treacherous, long par three hole. It would require a near perfect shot over a small pond lined with fall high reeds to the green, which was surrounded by a string of sand traps. Larry’s tee shot soared over the hazards and landed on the green a mere few feet from the pin. The atmosphere on the tee was pure delight as Larry gave out a little laugh and offered a “can you believe it” smile. It was a magical moment. But there was no bravado. Larry understood that the golfing gods had smiled, too, as his ball landed softly on the green. We all celebrated and shared in Larry’s simple joy at what he had just accomplished. This is how I will always remember my dear brother-in-law, Larry Rasky.  May you rest in the peace and light of the Divine. 

Bob Eckel: I first met Larry in 1985 on one of my trips home to the Cape from California. Carolyn and Larry had recently met, and I was looking forward to meeting the new guy in Carolyn’s life. Shortly after Carolyn and Larry arrived, I suggested a tennis match so we could get away from the hubbub at my parents’ house on the Cape.  

I had my tennis outfit, a new racket, tennis shoes. Larry, on the other hand, borrowed an old racket, had an old pair of Keds, and of course he wasn’t too concerned about his attire. On the way to a local court I’m thinking, “I’ll go easy on this guy — don’t want our first meeting to be negative.” It was a warm, muggy afternoon and as we started warming up I’m thinking “this is good, he has a little game,” Larry proceeded to throttle me 2 sets to none. His repertoire included spinning serves, working me side to side, lobs over my head… At the end of match, I was gulping water, sweating profusely, wondering what just happened? Larry’s only comment: “Let’s get back to the house and have a beer and cigar.” It was the last time I ever underestimated my soon-to-be brother-in-law.  

Over the many years since that first meeting, Larry has been a significant part of “the Rasky/Eckel Family.” He would always comment, “I’ve got to be a good to Carolyn because if I’m not, the Eckel brothers will come and get me.” Of course, Larry NEVER had to worry because he was already “one of the brothers.”

There are so many great stories/ memories: “no bacon for you”, “let’s get out of here before the Catholics know I’m here,” but like so many who have been touched by Larry, to me he represented the “Greatest Generation 2.0”. He was selfless, humble, generous, loyal. Family and friends ALWAYS came first, and if you wanted someone to really listen, then provide counsel, you called Larry. Moving forward, there will be a chair at the end of the table that can never be filled. We will miss his reflections at holiday gatherings about the importance of being together, his wide smile and laugh, his favorite songs, and at the end of the day, a hug and a kiss on the cheek. I will miss you brother Larry, but I will carry you in my heart every day.

David Eckel: I first met Larry at Cablevision; he had just helped Ray Flynn become Mayor of Boston. Now he was the new vice president of communications for Cablevision. I mentioned to Larry that my sister Carolyn and I were having a St. Patrick’s Day open house on M Street, and that he should stop by. At the time, Carolyn was involved in politics, so I thought they would have something in common. Little did I know, we were connecting two such giving individuals, who would have such a profound impact on our family, and our community. Larry came by, enjoyed the day, and the rest as they say is history. Perhaps he inherited a little luck of the Irish.

My wife, Jeanne, and I enjoyed our time together with Carolyn and Larry, sharing in many happy occasions, including the birth of Will, who spent his first few years on I Street in South Boston. Larry would always introduce me as the brother-in-law who changed his life. We shared business associates, golf, front-row seats to countless games and concerts. Larry always made sure his extended family was included. I remember taking our son, James, and his wife, Brittany, to a Red Sox game in the premium seats, courtesy of Larry, of course. Brittany looked around the ball park with amazement. “I’ve never had seats like this.” The last time I saw Larry he was having lunch at the Parker House, the day after Joe Biden’s resounding victory in the South Carolina primary. A steady stream of well-wishers stopped by the table to congratulate Larry on the results. Everyone had the same thought: happy for Biden, REALLY happy for Larry. “I can see a path to the nomination,” Larry said that day. “I can see a path.” I’m glad Larry can see a path, because we’re all feeling a little lost right now, and the journey is a little harder without my brother Larry.

Richard Eckel: I didn’t know Larry in 1969, but I believe it was a defining year in his life, a year that would explain his approach to life. First, for the kid from Teaneck, 1969 was the year of the Amazin Mets. Seaver. Koosman. Ryan. Tommie Agie. Cleon Jones. The Mets, lovably pathetic for most of Larry’s teenage years, won the World Series, making it apparent to Larry that with the right leadership, and a belief in one another, anything was possible in life. That was Larry’s approach to business and family. I bring up the Mets because there are so many Larry stories to share, but some of my favorite times with him were when he took out his baseball card collection, and we would re-live our childhoods sharing stories about the ballplayers we grew up idolizing. With every card, Larry had a story, a memory, and we bonded – over our love for baseball.

1969 was also the year the Hollies released the song He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother. Now I know Larry moved through the rhythm of life to the Gospel of the Grateful Dead, but I believe this song also defined Larry’s approach to life, particularly these words.

It’s a long, long road
From which there is no return
While we’re on the way there
Why not share
And the load
Doesn’t weigh me down at all
He ain’t heavy he’s my brother…

Why not share? That was Larry’s approach to life, and he shared so much of himself with all of us, his brothers. At times we did weigh him down with a request for advice, a request for a connection, or a request for help getting tickets to a Sox or Patriots game. You aren’t heavy, Larry would respond through deeds and actions, you’re my brother.

The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where…

I’m certain there’s a Cooperstown for brothers-in-law around the winding turn, and Larry is at the head of this year’s induction class. He was a Hall of Famer. But honestly, we didn’t think of Larry as our brother-in-law. Larry was our brother.