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Donald Wayne Runyan

06/13/1940 - 01/21/2021
Service Date: 01/30/2021
Service Time: 3:00 PM
Service Location: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 745 N Val Vista Drive in Mesa, AZ 85213

Donald Wayne Runyan was born the second of four children to Raymond and Lorene Runyan on June 13, 1940 in Denver, Colorado.  At the beginning of World War II he and his family moved to San Diego, California while his father served in the Navy.  After the war, Don’s family returned to Denver, where he was instilled with the skills and values that would last him a lifetime.  He was raised in a loving family, where he learned how to work hard and overcome challenges.

He attended Alameda High School in Lakewood, Colorado where he excelled socially as well as with learning, working, and wrestling.  The sparks of knowledge he gained fueled a lifelong pursuit of education and became a priority that he instilled in others throughout his life.  He lettered in wrestling and ran with a large group of friends called “The Cousins” whose activities would take him all over the Denver area and allow him to polish his people skills. He accepted invitations to 24 proms during his high school years, and after the first few proms his mother, who was a skilled seamstress, made him a tuxedo which he proudly wore to the next 20 formals.  While in high school he worked construction for his uncles’ construction business.  Due to his work ethic and his ability to positively influence others, he was made foreman of his construction crew at the age of 16.  He figured out quickly that being good at something did not mean that he needed to do that thing for the rest of his life. Don graduated from Alameda High School in 1958. 

After high school Don applied to BYU and Ricks College. He was accepted to both, and he was also awarded a wrestling scholarship at Ricks. He spoke with the wrestling coach at BYU and was told if he could beat the varsity wrestler in his weight class (who was a senior) he could have his spot and scholarship on the BYU team. He considered it, but was worried about wrestling a college senior and also didn’t feel right about taking someone else’s scholarship if he won, so he decided to attend Ricks college.  A few months later Ricks and BYU had a wrestling meet in which Don squared-off against the senior and Don pinned him. In 1960 Don graduated from Ricks College with an associate degree.  Don served honorably in the Eastern States Mission where he participated in the Palmyra Pageant, taught many, baptized a few and gained a deep personal testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.   

Following his mission, Don attended Brigham Young University in Provo, UT where he met the love of his life, Linda.  They were married March 9, 1963 and sealed for time and all eternity in the Salt Lake Temple on October 23, 1964.  They were blessed with five children over the next twelve years. Don was a science major with dreams of medical school but when the realities of life got in the way he changed his major and graduated with his bachelor’s degree in Economics followed by a Master’s in Business Administration.   

Don and Linda spent the next 35 years in Denver, Lakewood, and Evergreen, Colorado.  Initially he worked for Xerox as a salesman and won the Salesman of the year award in 1966.  After a few years with Xerox, Don changed careers and went into business with his father and brother, starting Runyan Brothers Construction Company.  Subsequent business ventures included owning and operating Runyan Keepsake Jewelry store, then his own construction company, Better Builders, and finally a trio of Subway Sandwich stores.  Throughout all of this, Don never lost sight of his original dream of becoming a doctor, and in the late 1980’s he began the process of qualifying for and applying to medical school. 

Despite many obstacles and much discouragement he persevered, and at the age of 53 Don began medical school at The College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific in Pomona, California. To this day he is the oldest student to have been accepted there. He graduated in 1997, after which Don and Linda moved to Arizona, where he practiced emergency medicine for the 22 following years.  

Don is survived by his wife Linda, and his children Randolynn (Kevin), Todd (Blanca), Jennifer (Shawn), Rebecca (Arthur), and Matthew (Kristi), 22 grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, his older brother Ray, and younger sister Joan. He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Judi.

He was a faithful lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He had many opportunities to serve others in bishoprics, as bishop at the age of 41, High Councilman, Young Men’s leader, and Scoutmaster. He was known for his friendly personality toward everyone, abundant kindness, boundless generosity, overreaching inclusiveness, selfless service, and most of all his infectious optimism.

Most important to Don was his family. His love for his wife was constant, consistent and endless, through thick and thin.  He was great friends with his parents and siblings.  He adored his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.  He saw the best in everyone, and helped them see it in themselves.  

Memorial service will be held at 3pm on Saturday, January 30th at the LDS chapel located at 745 N Val Vista Drive in Mesa, AZ 85213, and will be livestreamed for those who are unable to attend in person.  https://youtu.be/CTcfV5SCzy0



  • I have loved Don and Linda since
    our families joined with the marriage of Randi and Kevin. God Bless each of you and comfort you. My prayers are with you daily.

  • Julie Runyan Millett

    My dear cousins, I am so sad to hear about Dons passing. How I have loved my dear Don & Linda! The influence you have had on my life is immeasurable. I will be eternally grateful for and treasure the times we have shared. I love you my family. My prayers are with you all. I love you Randi 💝

  • Christy Matthews

    Sending Love and prayers your way! Our hearts are with you at this difficult time. May you find peace and hope in the knowledge that you will see him again. Love you all!

  • My deepest condolences to the Runyan Family for such a terrible loss. May Dr. Donald Runyan RIP and may the Lord give your hearts the peace you all need during this difficult times. Send prayers.

  • I met Donald Wayne Runyan when I visited tha “Mormon” church the very first time when I was ten years old in the Barnum Ward in Denver. His introduction in Sunday School I’ve never forgotten. As the class introduced themselves Don proclaimed, “ Never worry, never fear, Donald Runyan’s always near.”
    We became fast friends after I was baptized a year or so later.
    We worked construction side by side as teenagers, double dated, did mischief, played , swent on missions 6 months apart ( Don was 6 months older), were friends after missions, even dated the same girls( he taught me the “ tricks of the trade), I even had me very first kiss in the backseat of his cool ;9 Ford on the way home from a stake dance. Then life took separated us for forty years.
    Only recently did we get together again and shared many similarities as we both became caregivers to our beloved sweethearts.
    Now I look forward to our reunion in the life after mortality and I await the fulfillment of his first spoken words ,” never worry, never fear for Donald Runyan’s always near”.

  • I was so sad to hear of Don’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this hard time. May God bless and comfort you through your grieving.

  • I am so saddened to hear of Don’s passing. I was a classmate of his at COMP and I found him the most inspiring, compassionate, kind, caring, generous and all-around wonderful person in the class. I have been bringing him up to friends and family (most recently my daughter) as an example of someone with a passion for life and for lifelong learning, with true persistence and positive commitment and striving for the good of his community at all times! I am so blessed to have known him, albeit for a short period of time, and my only wish is that I had kept in better touch with him after the end of our medical training. My deepest condolences to his family and friends and all those who loved him.

  • We love you dad

  • It is with a heavy heart that I write this note, following the email from our school announcing Don’s passing. I feel like his life was cut short, for a couple of reasons. One, he used to say that his dad was still scoring his age in an 18 hole game of golf, in his 90’s! Second, he may have been the oldest person in our Med school class but he was, by far, the youngest in spirit, heart and, at times, behavior. He was a mischievous young man that was old enough, barely, to be my father. He was full of joy, playfulness and a lighthearted approach to everything he did. Talk about tenacity, he was incredibly energetic and focused on whatever goal he had in mind. Unselfish, he shared everything he had and asked for very little in return. My only regret was that I couldn’t have remained in touch and seen him after we all went our separate ways. Looking back, he modeled integrity, honesty and how to be a friend, as well as teaching the importance of family. I want to express my sincere condolences to his family and to let you know that I know a little bit about you all because you are what he talked about. Thank you for sharing him with us.

  • We are saddened at the passing of Don. He will be missed. Our condolences go to all of the family. May the memories and legacy of his wonderful life bring peace to you. Our time on earth is so brief compared to the eternities. Even though separation is temporary, may you also find peace in the knowledge of a joyful reunion. Yes, another wonderful family reunion…maybe even with a game of softball. We love you!

  • Robert and Bonnie Runyan McCullough

    Wonderful childhood and teen memories of cousins growing up in the same ward. Condolences from all the Albert and Elda Mae Runyan familes.

  • Don was an amazing grandfather and mentor. He inspired me and made me feel so special in all the things I was doing. I will miss him so much.

  • My heart goes out to the Runyan family. I was shocked and saddened to hear of Don’s passing. He was like a second dad to me growing up in Evergreen, when my Dad died when I was 14. I have the best memories of Don. He was an example of hard work and still having fun. I remember a snowball fight after church with Bishop Don as one of the main instigators. He had a good arm! I learned to waterski behind his boat, and he was my summer employer doing construction. He was the father of one of my best friends in high school. I have been blessed to have known Don and his family. He was always generous with his time and positive in his outlook on life. He will be missed.

  • Wendell and Judy White

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you Linda, and your family. The funeral was beautiful.

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