So long, Dave, until next time

Herbert Bayard Swope said, “I can’t give you a sure-fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time.”

That quote reminds me a lot of Dave Runk. Runk, 77, was laid to rest on July 6 at Juniata Memorial Park.

Dave’s family life can be divided into two sections — I guess you could label them Dave 1.0 and Dave 2.0. Dave was first married to the former Gloria Espigh, and they had two children — Shelly and Dave. For those who do not know, I have been married to Shelly for nearly 36 years so that is my “connection” to Dave.

The second phase of Dave’s family life, which lasted significantly longer, featured a marriage to Carol (Wear) and a daughter, Maddie.

Dave was a career educator and administrator, and his face would belong on any Mount Rushmore of Mifflin County education. Dave was a master mathematician, and his incredible skill at developing many a balanced school district budget without a tax increase was something to behold.

Though I do not believe I could say Dave was “universally loved” by everyone in his community, he was a “straight shooter” and many would agree that he was firm in his convictions and a very fair person. He was highly respected for his distinguished work in education administration, and many superintendents sought out his advice when faced with difficult situations.

Speaking of straight shooting, as a sophomore in high school I had the good fortune of having Dave as one of my basketball coaches. Dave was the varsity coach and he had a great assistant in the late Bill Logan. By their actions and enthusiasm, those two men really cultivated my love of the game and helped inspire me to a long career of coaching basketball. During my coaching years I often thought back to the valuable lessons and experiences I enjoyed with Dave and Bill. It’s ironic that Dave and Bill passed away within a month of each other. I can imagine them having some good conversations right now!

Anyone who knew Dave at least a little bit would know of his immense love for the outdoors and of hunting. Dave traveled near and far to hunt deer, turkeys, antelope, you name it. His house featured prominent evidence of some of his favorite hunting triumphs. Even if it wasn’t hunting season, Dave loved nothing more than taking a walk in the woods. When he was no longer able to walk long distances, Dave still enjoyed driving through Ferguson Valley and many of our area’s prime hunting locations. Shelly really enjoyed spending time with Dave on our deck, watching the hummingbirds and smelling the honeysuckle.

Dave was very proud of the success of his grandchildren, and I will never forget how he smiled when talking about their accomplishments.

I’ll close with two more quotes that remind me of Dave, the first of which is from Dr. Seuss: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

Finally, part of the Frank Sinatra classic “My Way:”

I’ve lived a life that’s full

I traveled each and every highway

And more, much more than this

I did it my way

It is said that we are all the stars of our own movies. Dave’s movie was a good one, and many of its highlights will continue to play through the lives of all of his loved ones.

So long, Dave, until next time…


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