August 4, 1933 ~ April 10, 2023
St. Peter, Illinois
Resided in: College Station, Texas
Edward C. A. Runge was born August 4, 1933, in St. Peter, Illinois. Proceeded to heaven by his parents Edward F. and Bertha (Grandt) Runge and 5 brothers. He married Patricia Rice on September 2, 1956, in Ellis, Illinois. Daughter Kimberly Leigh (Runge) Overton was born on December 8, 1959, and Son Jeffrey Scott Runge was born on May 14, 1963, Both in Ames, Iowa.
Ed received his Bachelor’s of Science Degree and Master’s Degree at University of Illinois in Urbana, Illinois. He received a PhD from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. While in School he worked as a research Associate and Assistant Professor from 1959 – 1963.
Ed worked at the University of Illinois from 1963 – 1973 as an Extension and Researcher/Teacher in the Agronomy Department where he worked with the County Agents (Extension Farm Advisors). He also taught “Soils of Illinois” while there from a probe truck which supported his extension work. In 1966 he was selected to teach “Agronomy 306 Intermediate Soil Science” and increased his advising to MS and PhD students. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1967 and to Professor in 1973. His work alongside Neil Smeck on organic matter and phosphorus movement was cutting edge.
During this time Ed and Pat wanted to expose their children Kim and Jeff to as much of the United States as they could. A 1963 station wagon did the trick, once it was outfitted with storage for the tent and all the belongings they needed. They traveled as a family to almost all 50 states.
In 1968 Ed ventured into the world of International Soil Science by attending meetings in Australia. On the way he signed up for soil field trips in Hawaii, the South Island of New Zealand, and Australia. These field trips validated the research he started with Neil Smeck. The field trips lead to a Fellowship from Lincoln College on the South Island of New Zealand from 1970 – 1971. This adventure included the entire family and many extended family members that visited. As a family they traveled the entire country of New Zealand both the north and south islands every spare moment they had. This led to a love of travel by the entire family over generations.
Ed took a job at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri in 1973 – 1980. He took the position of Chair of the Agronomy Department. While at Missouri he became a Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America and the American Society of Agronomy in 1977. He was also made a Fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Science. He continued to mentor and advise MS and PhD Students. Teaching never left his DNA.
He worked diligently on grant funding for numerous projects dealing with corn yields from moisture and weather data. This successful program led to an appointment for 3 plus months in 1976 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The family was able to tag along with schoolbooks and all.
In 1980 – 1999 he moved to Texas A&M University. Where he became the head of the Soil and Crop Sciences Department. This move involved Ed, Pat and Jeff since Kim was already away at College at Iowa State University. So much happened in Texas. He became involved with many projects all around the world and this led to him bringing Norman Borlaug to the University as a Nobel Laureate. Dr. Borlaug was able to teach about the responsibilities of plant pathology. As luck would have it, Ed and Pat became fast friends with Norman and Margaret Borlaug. The World Food Prize was established by Dr. Borlaug in Des Moines, Iowa and Ed served on the board and selection committee for years. He then worked with 8 UAP (United Ag Products) students from South America for a year and then moved on to mentor 89 Monsanto Beachel Borlaug Students from all around the world.
A project he was very passionate about was Project 101 “Old Soldier” in Burma (now Myanmar) from 1996 – 2009. This project recognized the soldiers that served behind Japanese lines during World War II. The project was a pay-back from the soldiers for all the effort provided by the Kachin and Shan soldiers. They started a corn improvement project by importing seed and fertilizer from Thailand. On one such trip Ed had to travel into Myanmar undercover as a minister of faith.
He stepped down as department head in 1999, but continued working with the students. Teaching and mentoring his students, children and extended family was always a natural response for Ed. Something he had a true penchant for. True retirement finally happened for Ed in 2023.
Ed was a man of many talents. He loved immersing himself into culture and learning about people. No matter where he went, if you couldn’t find him, he was probably trying to fix that loose screw someone forgot about. Ed was a constant and committed husband, father, grandpa (Pop pop), and teacher. You could always feel how much he truly cared. His genuine affection and passion were usually followed by his classic outburst “oh bull roar” and you knew you had his utmost attention.
Above all else you always knew how much Ed loved Pat. Everything he ever did down to his last days was for her. To his core, Ed valued his family and always stayed dedicated to Pat and the life they had built together.
He is survived by his wife of 66 years Pat, daughter Kimberly Overton, son Jeff and daughter in law Michelle, 5 grandchildren (Rayce, Royce, Anny, Ry and Laramy) and 7 great grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests gifts in memory of Ed Runge be sent to the scholarship fund started by Ed and Pat many years ago at the Texas A&M Foundation or to Hospice Brazos Valley of which they helped establish and supported for decades.
Texas A&M Foundation
Ed and Pat Runge Scholarship
401 George Bush Drive
College Station, TX 77840
Hospice Brazos Valley
502 West 26th Street
Bryan, TX 77803
Livestream for the service will be available at this link: http://tx.ag/EdRunge