Novato family’s special ties to President Biden

A Novato family watched the Presidential inauguration from start to finish, thinking about a loved one who should have been there.

Larry Rasky was one of Joe Biden's closest confidantes for years, but died of complications of COVID19 during the campaign.

"He died at 69 and the most important thing to him still was making his parents proud of him," said Rasky's sister Renee Chernus.

Chernus and her mom said it was bittersweet watching Wednesday's ceremonies.

"Larry and Joe Biden had a really wonderful relationship," said Rasky's mother Sarah.

Based in Boston, Larry Rasky was a public relations guru who guided the campaigns of many prominent Democrats, including Jimmy Carter and John Kerry.

He met Biden as a young U.S. Senator, and worked on his runs for President in 1988 and 2008.

Last fall, he helped launch Unite the Country, a super PAC to raise money to fend off Trump attacks and boost Biden's chances.  

In March, when Biden roared ahead on Super Tuesday, Larry made a joyful call to his family.

"He said to me, he said mom, get ready to go to the inauguration," said Sarah Rasky.

Chernus recalls her brother's certainty that Biden would ultimately prevail.

"He never ever lost faith and never thought that it wouldn't happen."

Later that month, however, Rasky died suddenly, after travel to New York and still early in the pandemic.

Tributes rolled in, including from the candidate himself.

Biden told the Boston Globe that Rasky was "a real friend, generous and sharp and he just had a spirit about him. His passion for politics was amazing."

Biden also admitted that Rasky "gave me confidence" at difficult junctures in his political career.

"No matter how down I was going into something, that ridiculous laugh of his would always make a difference. He always knew when to kid and when not to kid," Biden told the Globe.

The Chernus household in Novato was delighted to receive an official White House announcement of the inauguration.

They have many warm memories of crossing paths with Biden over the years. 

"He never remembered my name," chuckled Renee, "but he always called me sis, because he knew I was Larry's sister."

Biden was a guest at the bar mitzvah for Larry's son Will.

On Wednesday afternoon, Will Rasky joined the incoming administration, and selected one of his father's ties to wear for the virtual swearing-in ceremony for new staff. 

"As my mom would say God love y'all and we've got a lot of work to do," said Biden to the new hires, after administering the oath.

"Larry would be so proud of Will and I know we can feel Larry's presence," said Chernus.

She adds, Rasky and Biden shared many qualities: loyal, approachable, upbeat. 

"With them what you see is what you get," said Chernus, "and they are just two honest, straight-shooting guys who are humble."

While Biden lost a friend and trusted strategist, Chernus lost her only brother, the one who taught her to love sports and the Grateful Dead.

"If you were his friend you were his best friend and he had many," smiled Chernus," and what I miss today is how much joy he would have if he were alive." 

Debora Villalon is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Debora at and follow her on Twitter