Brother Elliott wrote that Rocky “went hang gliding in Rio...He parachuted, flew in a WWII vintage airplane, swam with dolphins, manta rays, huge turtles, and even sharks.’’
Hart said her father “went to the gym every day and rode a fold-up bicycle. He’d go around picking up cans and made $50 a week from cans to take his children and grandchildren to dinner.’’
Raisen became a surrogate father to several young men, and personal tutor to professional athletes he met at the gym.
Alex Rodriguez, the New York Yankees pitching superstar, called Raisen his “mental coach,’’ Hart said. He also mentored Edgar Renteria, a retired Miami Marlins shortstop.
Bert Finale, now a retired Miami police officer, became one of the surrogate sons. He’d been in Raisen’s class in 1975 and said that unlike some Anglo teachers, Raisen “was very loving to us Cuban-Americans. There were a lot who were prejudiced, but he was inclusive.’’
They grew close in the 1980s, when Raisen began exposing Finale to aspects of the arts that Finale knew nothing about, like opera and Israeli dance. They travelled together and spent Finale’s 50th birthday together three years ago in Brazil.
“There were three things that Rocky loved,’’ Finale said, “food, women and people. He was so down-to-earth you’d think you were looking at a poor old man, but he never asked for anything other than to pick your brain,’’ one reason that pro athletes trusted him.
In October 1989, Raisen lost most of his belongings when his West Miami mobile home burned. The Shenandoah school community rallied to help. Students helped him salvage what he could, and fellow teachers made a “money tree’’ for him.
“He was a very humble man and didn’t know how to accept it,’’ ex-wife Barbara recalled.
At the time, Raisen told a reporter that he wasn’t going to let the loss crush him.
“You get down, you get back up,’’ he said. “If I had been inside [the trailer], I wouldn’t have to worry about insurance. They’d all be going to my funeral.’’
There wasn’t one to go to after Raisen died. His remains were cremated.
In addition to his brother and daughters Jodi and Julie, Raisen is survived by son Joshua Raisen.