Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Obituary or Love Letter? One Wife’s Goodbye…

Jim Runnels - a most extraordinary man.

Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely. Buddha

Peg Runnels was married to a man who was both ordinary and extraordinary. He wasn’t a rock star or even famous but he was the world to one woman. In writing his obituary, Peg wrote a love letter – a legacy of what her husband Jim meant to her and to all who met him.

Jim Runnels’ obituary written by his loving wife, Peg.

“During his brief stay in the hospital, Jim Runnels said he was dying "the best possible death." He told me (his wife Peg), "I lived 72 years and was married to you, my soulmate for 53 years. I did not drop dead suddenly, nor will I suffer from chemo. I am not afraid of death, and I get to say goodbye to family and close friends. Death just doesn't get any better than that." 

How many people can say that?

Jim was a gentle and loving man to his last breath. Even in dying, he lived fully and authentically. His was a graceful exit from a life well lived. A few days ago in the hospital he said, "I wake up early here and that is my thinking time. I review my life and try to think of regrets, but I really can't think of any." 

How many people can say that?

His goal was to do something every day to change the expression on his face. He sky-dived (once) and landed in the emergency room. The next year he landed in the emergency room for dancing too exuberantly while hoisting a friend on his back. But he liked full-tilt living.

Jim loved golf, fly fishing, and solving problems creatively. We loved Interplay, writing together, TED talks, improv dancing, photography, house concerts, sculpting, movies, creating art, traveling with friends, boating, performances, hosting parties and stimulating discussions with anyone.

His years as a skilled conflict resolution mediator taught him to, as he said, "Be hard on the problem but soft on the person." Always quick to help a friend, he listened and advised if asked. Many people told him he was their role model and mentor, friend and counselor. He was a fixer of things and lives.

He was the other half of my brain and lived in all of my heart.

A family man, Jim loved spending time with our two children and three grandchildren: Rick Runnels, his wife Ann and their son Brandon Runnels and his wife Jessica (expecting a baby in May); our daughter Randi Wingate and her husband Steve and their two boys Cooper (7) and Carson (4).

Jim graduated UT in 1965 with an engineering degree, worked for Tracor for ten years, then went into real estate. In 1974, he started his own company, Brokers Realty. After 18 years, he sold it and worked at Stanberry and Associates for 22 years.

During his real estate career he frequently served on the Professional Standards of Austin Board of Realtors, volunteered as a mediator in conflict resolution, and taught real estate ethics and finances. An original member of Austin Executives Association, he enjoyed serving almost 40 years in this group of professionals who became close friends.

All of these circles of friends and family will miss him terribly. He hugged and thanked all the staff that cared for him at St. David's North. He thanked doctors for trying to save his life.

Jim was an extraordinary man. Goodbye, my love. “ (Peg Runnels)

Goodbye, Jim and thank you, Peg Runnels for sharing the life story of this most extraordinary man.

Jim Runnels with his wife, Peg in Austin, TX

Nancy Burban 2014

Funeral fund


  1. beautiful tribute to a beautiful man.

  2. Such a moving tribute - thank you for sharing it with us, Nancy. You touched us all again, with your compassionate awareness, ability to discern value, and passion for helping us to find clarity when thinking about that most challenging subject: our own death. This is a "must-share" post! (again!)

  3. GREAT STORY of a life well lived!!


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