Longtime employee Tom Rask passes away

Tom Rask, a graphic designer at Case Western Reserve University since 1979, died Sunday after collapsing in his home last week. The cause of death was related to a previously undiscovered genetic heart defect.

Known for his painstaking attention to detail and passion for artistic excellence, Rask impacted nearly every aspect of the university’s publications during his time on campus. His projects ranged from the spring commencement book to the College of Arts and Sciences’ magazine art/sci to the University Farm Annual Report. He also provided photography for several editions of presidential holiday cards.

“Tom combined a deep understanding of our university with a keen aesthetic sense,” said President Barbara R. Snyder, who selected two of Rask’s photographs for her cards. “We will miss his vision, his perspective and, most of all, his great commitment to Case Western Reserve.”

Rask’s career included multiple awards from the University and College Designers Association and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. He also maintained the official copy of the university map, providing updates over the decades as new structures filled the 155-acre campus. He produced the most recent copy of the document this fall.

“Tom was a pleasure to work with,” said his supervisor, senior design manager Chip Valleriano. “He was a truly decent man both admired and beloved by his colleagues.”

Services are planned for 11 a.m. Saturday, March 17, at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Cleveland (2728 Lancashire Road in Cleveland). His family asks that guests wear jeans in Tom’s honor.

Rask is survived by his wife of more than 40 years, Jeri, his daughters Kristen Rask and Chelsea Van Rask, his son-in-law David Van Rask and his two-month old granddaughter, Remy Van Rask. He also leaves his sister, Patty Farukh, and nieces Yasmeen and Misty Farukh.