Former Postmaster General Marvin Runyon Dies at Age 79

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Former postmaster general Marvin Runyon died early yesterday morning at his home in Nashville. He was 79. He died of a lung disease called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, according to Vicki Kessler, a spokeswoman at Atkinson Public Relations, founded by his wife, Sue Atkinson.


Runyon served as postmaster general from 1992 to 1998 and was noted for building a new, leaner management structure that focused on customer needs, financial revitalization and service improvements.


"Marvin brought a new dimension to our industry and set the stage for today's discussions of legislative reform," said postmaster general John E. Potter. "He had the foresight to see that technology would play a major role in automating America's letter and package mail streams."


Potter ordered all flags at postal facilities nationwide to fly at half-staff until noon Thursday.


"At a time of dramatic change in the mailing industry, Marvin Runyon helped reposition the U.S. Postal Service to meet the challenge of doing business in the 21st century," said David Fineman, chairman of the USPS' Board of Governors. "Through his innovative efforts, he helped lay the groundwork for the postal service's success today."


Runyon "was ahead of his time as PMG," said Cary H. Baer, a New York-based direct marketing consultant, DM News columnist and past chairman of the Association for Postal Commerce Postcom. Baer worked closely with Runyon while he was a vice president at Reader's Digest.


Following distinguished careers with Ford Motor Co. and Nissan America and in the midst of his tenure as chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority, Runyon accepted the appointment as postmaster general. Under his direction, the postal service overhauled its products and mailing guidelines. By the time he left, the USPS was making more than $1 billion in annual profits.


Most recently, Runyon served as the Robert E. and Georgianna West Russell Chair of Manufacturing Excellence at Middle Tennessee State University. He also was founder and chairman of the Runyon Group, a Nashville-based business consulting company.


In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to: Alive Hospice, 1718 Patterson St., Nashville, TN 37203; Marvin Runyon Pulmonary Rehabilitation Fund, St. Thomas Foundation, 4220 Harding Road, Nashville, TN 37205; Campaign for Saving Great Spaces, P.O. Box 816, Sewanee, TN 37375.


In addition to his wife, Runyon is survived by his sister, Marion Civello of North Richland Hills, TX; four children; and a stepson.


A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. May 6 at St. George's Episcopal Church in Belle Meade, TN.


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