Robert S. Runyon
August 30, 2023
Robert S. Runyon died peacefully at his residence in Omaha on August 30, 2023. He was born in Summit NJ to Henry W. Runyon and Margaret Barton Runyon (Green), and had one brother, John Barton (Bart) Runyon.
For his early education, he attended public schools in New Jersey. Bob earned his undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University in Middleton, CT. After graduation, Runyon was awarded a French government fellowship that allowed him to study at the Sorbonne in Paris for a year. Robert later earned his Master of Library Science from Rutgers – The State University of New Jersey.
His career involved work at all levels in public, special, and university libraries, which included The Johns Hopkins University and the University of Utah. He spent the last 22 years of his career serving as the Library Director/Library Dean at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
While at UNO, he created a traveling exhibition entitled Andrew Carnegie & His Gifts That Continue to Grow, which received grant funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The exhibit was displayed at over 20 libraries across the nation. Robert was instrumental in adopting the first computerized and networking services at the Criss Library at UNO. He also co-found the University of Nebraska Council of Libraries, establish a Special Collections department, which included the Arthur Paul Afghanistan Collection, and began a successful University Library Friends organization.
Bob was married to Sheila J. McCrae in a wee Scottish kirk near Moniaive, Scotland. The courting and marriage (57 years) to Sheila was one of the highlights of his life. Their shared life together fed into his love for her native Scotland as his adoptive home, and they travel there often together. He had a great appreciation for the beauties of the US National Parks, a destination of many early family vacations with Sheila and his son, Neil. The wonders of the world also encompassed much of his travels. He and Sheila participated in over 40 ocean/river cruises that landed them in destinations around the globe and visits to all seven continents.
His license plate, ALL READ, expressed his passion for reading and books. Among his greatest joys in life, was gathering close on the sofa with his grandchildren, Cassidy, and Gabriel, to read books and stories and share time together. This passion led him initiate the Rotary Readers program through Omaha Rotary West club. Through this program, he would visit Skinner Magnet Center on Dr. Seuss’s birthday to read Seuss’s rhyming stories to bright-eyed second and third graders. It was a thrill for him to see the children’s faces light up with excitement and discovery as he help these young minds experience the love of stories, language, and books.
Outside of work, Bob enjoyed weekly meetings with the Revelliers Toastmasters Club, attending Omaha Rotary West, swimming, and working on his roses and garden. Post-retirement he continued these activities as well as establishing the Loveland Neighborhood Association, tutoring at the Literacy Center for the Midlands, and volunteering at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. In 2019, he finished his book, Seven Continents before Incontinence: A Memoir of Travel & Togetherness, which was his reflection on travel, family, nature, and aging.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Henry and Margaret; brother, John. He is survived by his wife, Sheila; son and daughter-in-law, Neil, Natalie; grandchildren, Cassidy, Gabriel.
Celebratory service will be held on Saturday, September 9, 2023, at 4:00 p.m. at the West Center Chapel.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making any memorials or donations to support one of Robert’s passions, such as a local literacy program or the US National Parks.
To view a live broadcast of the memorial service, please go to www.heafeyheafey.com and click the “View Live Cast” button at the top of the home page.