Donald Allan Runyon, former assistant vice president for auxiliary services at Old Dominion University, died on Feb. 28 from complications related to pulmonary fibrosis. He was 75.
Runyon, who retired in 2007, came to Old Dominion University in 1992 from George Washington University. He managed most of ODU's auxiliary operations, including Webb University Center, parking services, Monarch Dining and Catering, the University Bookstore, the card center, mailroom operations and the Ted Constant Convocation Center.
During his nearly 15-year career at Old Dominion, Runyon oversaw the privatization of campus dining and bookstore operations and was instrumental in developing the management contract with Global Spectrum for the Constant Center.
Runyon also introduced the Wacky Olympics, a daylong, annual event for students, and organized charity "Fun Run-yon" events. He and his wife, Linda, were avid supporters of ODU's basketball teams.
"Don was one of most likable people ever at ODU," President John R. Broderick said. "He knew everyone no matter what their job was and always had something to say to make you smile or laugh. He and Lin still came to many games after his retirement."
Former colleagues recalled his jovial demeanor.
"He always had a way of making me laugh even in the most challenging time," ReNeé Dunman, former assistant vice president for institutional equity and diversity, wrote in a memorial post. "He will be sorely missed."
"Don was one of my favorite people to work with at Old Dominion University," Rosa Breathwaite-Washington wrote. "He had a great sense of humor, and I loved working with him."
"It was always a better day when I walked through Webb Center and ran into Don," Jim Calliotte added.
Runyon acquired an appreciation of the outdoors at an early age, fishing and canoeing on Lake Michigan as a youth. That passion was felt in South Hampton Roads. Working with Lynnhaven River NOW, he helped remove thousands of pounds of trash during cleanups. Last March, he organized a beach dune restoration project near his home on the Chesapeake Bay that removed invasive wisteria, planted thousands of native dune grasses and restored wildlife habitat.
He was also known for his love of kayaking. Though he didn't purchase his first kayak until he was 50, he earned the nickname "Kayak Don" because of his frequent forays on the lakes, rivers and estuaries around the Chesapeake Bay. In addition, he often paddled on the waters at his and Linda's cottage on Cayuga Lake in New York, and while visiting Oregon, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and Alaska.
Runyon, a Michigan native, graduated from Michigan State University in 1968. His family noted that one of the highlights of his life was seeing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak there in 1967.
He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Linda; son Craig, daughter-in-law Deb McLaughlin, and grandchildren Owen and Amelia; son Brent, daughter-in-law Tina Egloff, grandchildren Lillie Shanley, Walker Allison and Hope Allison; and great-grandsons Johnny and Hank Shanley.
He is also survived by his older brother, James Runyon of Switzerland, and older sister, Julie Runyon of Florida.
A public memorial service will be announced at a later date.