Jack Runninger, OD.

ROME, Ga.—Services were held recently for Jack Runninger OD, a well-known leader, mentor and columnist in the optometric community, who passed away on June 24 at the age of 93.

Runninger had retired years ago, but kept up his writing in the Rome News-Tribune. In fact, in advance of his death, Runninger continued his humorous commentary by writing his own obituary, in advance of his death. The obituary is also posted at Daniel’s Funeral Home, where many from the optometry field posted memories and condolences about him.

It reads, in part, “William John (Jack) Runninger was born July 16, 1923 in Aurora, Illinois. Although officially named William John by his parents, they proceeded to call him Jack instead. Which seems a rather stupid thing to do, and has caused all sorts of confusion during his life.

“He graduated from East Aurora High School, salutatorian of his class. Which seemed to set a pattern for his entire life, often second, never first. He then attended DePauw University. When World War II broke out, he joined the US Navy. He served as the Combat Information Center officer on the USS Newberry, an attach transport, and participated in the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

“When his ship was sent back to the States for repairs, preparing for the invasion of Japan, he married his high school sweetheart, Mary Gibson. Following the war, his new bride and the GI bill paid his way through his schooling at the Southern College of Optometry, and he graduated in 1948 with a Doctor of Optometry degree. (Again as salutatorian). He then came to Rome to practice, not realizing at the time how lucky he was to be coming to such a wonderful community. He was in the private practice of optometry in Rome for almost 45 years.”

Runninger continued, “In addition he also became an optometric journalist serving as editor of three different national optometric journals. (Only two of them folded under his leadership). Also in addition he wrote a monthly column for these journals for some 35 years. He also served for many years as the United States consulting editor for Points de Vue, an international optical journal.

“Success with these columns led him to write a periodic humor column for the Rome News-Tribune for more than 30 years. He wrote more than 500 articles and columns for professional and lay journals, six books, and lectured at more than 100 meetings and colleges in 28 states.”

Runninger was chosen for the National Optometry Hall of Fame; awarded an honorary Doctor of Ocular Science degree; Benedict Professor University of Houston; Lifetime Achievement Award from his alma mater; elected Distinguished Practitioner, Nation Academies of Practice; member of the Governor's (Maddox) Health Planning Council, and the American Optometric Association Distinguished Service in Journalism Award, among others.