Shirley Jane (Christensen) Runnels

Shirley Jane (Christensen) Runnels

November 16, 1946 – December 5, 2020


Shirley Jane (Christensen) Runnels was born November 16, 1946 in Spencer Iowa to Marian Eileen (Nielsen) Christensen and Milton Knud Christensen.  She grew up on a farm near Royal Iowa where she enjoyed swimming in the tank and riding her horse Diamond.

She was married in 1964 to Jules Alvey Purvis and to this union were born Kelly Knud, Jamie Rose and Aaron Isaac.  In 1982 she married Dick (Richard) Ross Runnels in Omaha Nebraska.

For many years she was a professional photographer in Peoria, Illinois and won many awards for her work.  Later in life she worked in Omaha Nebraska for Midwest Photo and Renze where she sold displays to businesses and non-profits all over the midwest.  She loved her work and always gave it her all, usually arriving by 6:00 a.m. ready to go.

In retirement she enjoyed her great passion for gardening and spent many hours pruning and beautifying her yard with her husband, turning it into a garden of Eden in the heart of Omaha.  A favorite activity of friends and family was just sitting on their deck enjoying the peacefulness that they created together.  Another great love of hers was her little dog Mollie Rose that her daughter Jamie gave to her.  Mollie was the boss and kept Shirley very busy with her demands.  Shirley loved all of her family very much and was the big sister and mother figure to all her younger siblings.

Shirley passed away at home on December 5, 2020.  Left to always cherish her memory are her husband, Dick; daughter, Jamie Lewis (Doug Bourn); brothers, Chris Christensen and Larry (Valerie) Christensen; sisters, Sharon (Tony) Joy and Terri (Brian) Minock; step-children: Richard Runnels, Mitzi (Bob) Micek, and Desiree Friedrich, as well as many grandchildren, nieces and nephews.  Preceding her in death are her parents, Marian and Milton; son, Kelly Purvis; and sisters Carol Christensen and Julie Schricker.

Private graveside service on Thursday, December 10, 1pm at Omaha National Cemetery.  Memorials to Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

To view a live broadcast of the Graveside Service, go to and click the “View Live Service” button on the homepage.



  • Sam and Mary Virgillito Posted December 9, 2020 9:07 am

    Sorry to hear about the loss of Shirley. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

  • JEAN MCKIMMEY Posted December 9, 2020 9:27 am

    Shirley was definitely a laughter-filled light here at Renze and we’ve all missed her since the day she retired. Thank you for sharing her with us for all those years.

  • Becky Runnels Posted December 9, 2020 5:25 pm

    Oh, Our Dear Sister Shirley,

    We are in shock. It was a shock to hear how sick you were, but never could’ve imagined how soon we would lose you.
    Kelly and I were so lucky to get to talk to you, and tell you how much we love you. We were so honored to hear you say “bye bye” in your special way. It let us know that you heard us, and knew that we were there with you in our hearts. Thank you for being such a kind, strong, reliable friend in our lives. Also, thanks for the rainbow 🌈 riddles. You had us hopping. You will be so incredibly missed.
    The ‘boat’ of us,
    Becky and Kelly

  • Scott Buchanan Posted December 9, 2020 7:05 pm

    Shirley was such a wonderful woman. Having known her since I was little and also working with her for 7 years I will remember her smile and upbeat attitude most. She will be greatly missed.

  • Tom Hannan Posted December 10, 2020 11:46 am

    To Dick, Jamie, Terri, and your families………my deepest sympathy for the loss of Shirley. I have many great memories of her and Dick….their laughter, spirit and graciousness.
    Prayers sent to all of you at this difficult time.

  • Bonnie Runnels Posted December 10, 2020 1:41 pm

    May you R.I.P Shirley and may your memories be a Blessing🌹

  • Chuck and Donna Tielbur Posted December 10, 2020 4:53 pm

    We were so sadden to hear this news on Shirley. Our families grew up together living on the farm a mile apart south of Royal IA. We were always a close net group in the farming communities. . As we grew our families all grew–then we all left our childhood homes and got busy in our own lives but we always tried to keep in touch. Shirley and I would talk about the darn illness that hit her. We had this in common. Shirley was always such a joy to be around and always had that beautiful outlook and her friendship meant a lot to many. One thing she always loved to do was to do the darn leg wrestle with my husband Chuck . They had so darn much fun along with the laughs. May she rest in peace and will miss you much Shirley. God Bless. Sending our Love and Sympathy to Dick and the family.

    Chuck and Donna Tielbur
    1204 N Ave
    Milford IA 51351

  • betty nielsen olesen Posted December 19, 2020 1:12 pm

    my deepest prayer for the entire family she was a great cousin sure will miss her

  • Jamie Lewis Posted January 4, 2021 6:09 pm

    Every time I think of my Mom, I will wish for one more day with her, so I could thank her for all the love she had shown me in my life. I would thank her for all of her patience and kindness. I would thank her for all the good times we shared and the bad times she helped see me through. Mom was not just an incredible Mother, she was also a loving wife who loved her husband very much. She was a good person, who showed kindness to everyone she met. She treated everyone just how God intended, with open arms and a kind heart. Never quick to judge or quick to anger, and for all these reasons and so many more this is why today I thank God for the privilege of letting me be her daughter.

  • Jamie Lewis Posted January 4, 2021 6:19 pm

    How blessed I truly am. Now I’m missing everything about her, the touch of her warm soft hands holding mine, the strength in her hugs when she would hold me tight and say, “I love you Jamie Rose,” and I would say, “I love you more Mamma”, and I don’t know if I ever told you Mom, but when you put your arms around me and hugged me tight, you gave me such comfort and hope that life was somehow going to work itself out and I’d be all right. Now you’re gone and you’re not here to put your loving arms around me and I’m struggling. But I realize now that my Mother still lives on inside my heart and as long as my heart beats so does hers. I love you Mother and I miss you, so save me a place for me until we are together again.

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