William Harwood "Woody" Runner, son of William Miles Runner and Ruth "Noodie" Ritter Runner, passed away at his residence in Marina del Rey, Calif., on Sunday, June 22, 2014, at the age of 56.
Woody was the CEO of Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic, a world-renowned sports medicine and orthopaedic surgery practice, a position he held since 2003.
Woody leaves behind his lovely wife, Susan Brannon Runner, the love of his life for nearly 30 years, and two daughters whom he loved with all of his heart, Kristen Brannon Runner of Los Angeles and Elizabeth Harwood Parker of Houston, Texas, as well as Elizabeth's husband Drew and their daughter, Emmaline. He is also survived by his mother, Noodie, of Elkins; and his three younger brothers, John Miles Runner and his wife Charlene of Newport News, Va., Erik W. Runner of Los Angeles and Michael "Mike" Runner of Bridgeport.
Woody was born Sept. 12, 1957, in West Germany while his father was with the U.S. Army and stationed at Goppingen. He was only a few weeks old before he made the trip to the United States. Woody spent the majority of his childhood in Bridgeport. From the time he was a small child, Woody had a rather serious, business-like, reserved demeanor, which masked a keen sense of humor that was not always apparent at first meeting. He was a bright child and a good student. His mother's attempt to assist with his first homework assignment resulted in Woody's insistence that she was wrong, and after he proceeded to do it his way, it proved to be the right way. Subsequently, his mother's participation in the homework process declined significantly.
Woody attended West Virginia University in Morgantown where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 1979 and was a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. After graduation, Woody worked in various accounting and auditing positions in Pittsburg and Clarksburg, before settling in Fort Worth.
Woody's intelligence, tenacity and unparalleled business sense led him to develop significant interdisciplinary and industry experience over the years that included healthcare, technology, manufacturing and distribution, private equity, outsourcing and leveraged acquisitions. His work history involved various executive and leadership positions, including director, CEO and chief financial officer responsibilities, business-model transformation, management-team recruiting, technology conversion, and large-scale audits. After being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes late in life, he turned a serious health problem into a business opportunity, as was typical of many areas in his life. He loved his work and often said that he was a "working breed," which led to his early retirement lasting a whopping 3 months.
Woody possessed a social ease as an adult and could be physically described as tall, dark and handsome. His appearance was frequently likened to the Clark Kent/Superman character, but his wife lovingly jokes that he much more closely resembled the Clark Kent side of things. Despite his relatively tall stature and lean build, he often joked that he was the short, fat kid in his family. Many loved his witty and dry sense of humor, and he enjoyed watching his sarcasm go over the heads of those who didn't. His infectious laughter could bring a smile to anyone's face, even if you didn't know why exactly he was laughing.
Woody's faith in Jesus Christ became central in his life about 12 years ago and influenced every facet of his life. In fact, his wife said that after he became a Christian she just "rode his wake." He was very active in church life and served in many roles. He enjoyed leading small group ministry and guiding other men in their walks with Christ.
Woody enjoyed a good craft beer alongside even better food and could be found watching golf on the weekends if he could tear himself away from work. He was unsurpassed in his ability to quote lines from Seinfeld, The Simpsons, and any Monty Python production. Much to his family's dismay, he hated all theme parks, but recently set aside these feelings on a trip to Disneyland where he got to spend one-on-one time with his new granddaughter while the rest of his family rode rollercoasters.
Woody was known for his wisdom in seemingly all areas of life and business, resulting in many friends and family members relying on him for guidance in their own lives. He often remarked that you should never want to be the smartest person in the room, as he was always focused on learning and growing from the wisdom of others. Woody was a treasured mentor to many in matters of life, faith, and business.
A funeral service will be held Thursday, July 3, at 11 a.m. at Talbott Funeral Home with pastor Jimmie E. Tallman officiating. Interment of his cremains will follow in the Maplewood Cemetery at Elkins.
Expressions of sympathy may be made by way of contributions to Search Ministries, PO Box 17088, Baltimore, MD 21297, or Pacific Crossroads Church, 6330 San Vicente Blvd., #102, Los Angeles, CA 90048, both of which were close to Woody's heart.