Ruth Lucille Lenardson (Brown) Runyan

  • Born: October 3, 1920
  • Died: July 16, 2019
  • Location: Formerly of Venice, Florida

Farley Estes Dowdle Funeral Home Cremation Care, Richland Chapel

9170 East D Avenue
Richland, MI 49083

Tel. (269) 629-6022

Tribute & Message From The Family

Ruth Lucille Lenardson (Brown) Runyan formerly of Venice, FL

Ruth, age 98, passed away peacefully July 16, 2019, having lived a life of faithfulness and devotion to family and friends. Born October 3, 1920 in Gobles, Michigan where she married Frank James Lenardson, her husband of 37 years, until his passing in 1977. Together, they owned and operated The Good Design Shop in Kalamazoo, where Ruth helped pioneer what would become a postwar model for many women as a wife, mother, business partner and devoted caretaker of her parents, Darwin and Opal (Graves) Brown, better known as Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus at Gilmore's Department Store for over 20 years.

A working mom's life is never done, toiling endlessly past setting sun. A balancing act few could achieve, she taught us all how to work and believe. Ruth sang in the choir on Sunday and went to work on Monday. She never thought she was special, but she was.

In her later years, Ruth was blessed with 23 years of marriage to another fine man and veteran, Melvin Runyan; they resided in Venice, Florida. "Grandpa Mel" was a Hoosier to the core; he injured his foot once shooting baskets with his grandson at age 90. Melvin's good humor and generosity was well-known to all who knew and loved him; he was especially devoted to his beloved "Ruthie."

Ruth is survived by her son, Bruce (Lorraine) Lenardson of Plainwell, MI and her daughter, Jane (Joseph) Noto of Fine Lake, MI, grandchildren, Denise, Maria, Gina, Johnny, David, Peter and Benjamin and 14 great-grandchildren as well as many nieces and nephews, all of whom she loved greatly.

Please join us Tuesday, July 23rd as family and friends gather at 10 AM before her Celebration of Life at Farley Estes Dowdle, Richland Chapel - 9170 East D Avenue (M-89), Richland, MI, 11 AM – 12 noon. A light luncheon will follow at Radiant Church, 8157 East DE Avenue, Richland, MI 49083. Interment will be at Fort Custer National Cemetery, Augusta, MI on Wednesday, July 24th, 10:30 AM. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Radiant Church.

Personal messages and/or favorite memories of Ruth may be placed at


Condolence & Memory Journal

My sweet Aunt Ruthie! What a joy to have her in my life. Our families lived on the same street on the East Side of Kalamazoo. We were like one family. I was always welcome in their home. And memories of Aunt Ruthie on Girl Scout camping trips! What a trouper she was. And then to think we also lived in Venice, Florida, which was my home for 30+ years. 98 years is a long time and she lived it to the fullest. Love of family and friends, she was a special lady. I wish I could be there to give hugs to all my family at this time of loss. I pray we will all meet again when Jesus comes!

Posted by KATHIE LENARDSON BRAINARD - ZEPHRYHILLS, FL - Family   July 22, 2019

A friend of her daughter Jane, I can remember this beautiful woman with the most beautiful white hair, her sweetness, and seeing the most wondeful Christmas trees with the gorgeous decorations at their home on the Eastside of Kalamazoo. My prayers to the family for your loss but this Angel with brighten the Heavens.

Posted by cathy jensen - Kalamazoo, MI   July 21, 2019

Continued prayers for you all.

Posted by Laura Riccobono - MI   July 21, 2019

I will always remember how she managed to put up with us in High School, and her flying down the street in her Blue Buick.

Posted by Richard Ward - Peoria, AZ - Friend   July 21, 2019