Allan Stern

The indispensable man

We met in the summer of 1979. We had more in common than being transplanted from the New York area and fresh out of college. Both of us had fathers who volunteered for the army in WWII. Two Jews itching for the chance to take out Hitler – Al Rasky would storm a beach in Normandy and Sol Stern the Battle of the Bulge. For Larry perhaps that same fight stayed within him.

We had many campaigns many losers many winners. That never mattered, it was the fight that mattered. My personal stories with Larry after 40 years, are too numerous to take up these pages. As a roommate, business partner, and friend. I had a front row seat.

Over the years, thousands counted on Larry to fight for them. To pick them off the ground and dust off their reputations. When candidates and campaigns needed propping up; When businesses were under siege or scrutiny; When the Catholic Church lost its soul.

He was the indispensable man, outsized for our small city, but would never wear it on his sleeve. He was generous to a fault. While others can be utterly selfish, Larry was always selfless. He allowed so many people to take his money, his focus and now we know, his most precious commodity, time.

His first stint in college was GW. He dropped out of there saying: “The music was way too good”. He went back to finish at Emerson, ultimately becoming its Chairmen of the Board of Trustees. You go to college to learn; you become the Chairman to teach. He taught hundreds of staff people in the communications business. He taught many dozens of candidates how to avoid the pitfalls of their own tongues. He taught me how to weave my thoughts into words.

Like no one else, he always needed to find the exact words to spin things right for his clients. In the early days on canary yellow paper, a typewriter, then a computer, he would stare at the words with his finger in between his teeth and his cheek. When he did that, don’t bother to try and grab his attention. Smashing cymbals wouldn’t take him from those words.

Music was an important part of his life and we shared an interest in the same talent. One time at a Dead concert, Gerry Garcia was playing China Cat Sunflower. Larry was playing his air guitar, turned to us and said: “Rapture”.

Everybody knew who Larry was, no last name needed. In order to ensure people who came to him for help would find their footing; they followed a mantra: “what does Larry think?”. He worked tirelessly for clients, friends and family. All hours of the day. Still, he managed to find ample time to be a doting father; a devoted husband; a dutiful son; and a dedicated older brother.

I met with him a week before his passing in his office. We talked about the recent Allman Brothers concert he had been to and he went over the set list. When I entered, he told me he didn’t feel well, we now know already gripped by pestilence. He demanded that I sit at his conference table while he sat at his desk. The last act of a great friend. He surely saved my life.

Tallyrand once wrote that “Ones reputation is like a shadow, it is gigantic when it precedes you, and diminishes when it follows.” Not so for Larry Rasky; He was the indispensable man and his reputation; his shadow, will never wane. He leaves such an unfillable void for so many of us.