Joanne Stonebrook Runkel
A longtime Redlands resident and active community member, died October 22. She was 87.
She was born in Sac City, Iowa in 1925, but moved to Redlands four years later with her mother and sister after her father died. Runkel always said she was glad to have made the move, which not only brought her to "this beautiful city with its wonderful weather" but also to her future husband, John Runkel. They were married for 58 years until his death in 2007.
As a child, Runkel was a member of the Kimberly Juniors, as well as the girl scouts. She loved music and played piano for many years. Runkel became an avid swimmer at age eight, and continued to swim daily well into her eighties. She embraced gardening at an early age; in later years, her friends were often the lucky recipients of her delicious persimmons and fragrant gardenias.
She received an academic scholarship to Stanford University and graduated with honors with a double major in political science and economics. Runkel initially joined an import/export firm in San Francisco after graduation, but returned to Redlands after meeting John Runkel during a Surrey Days celebration in 1947. They were married in the First Congregational Church in 1949.
During the years that followed, Runkel was active in the Redlands Assistance League. She volunteered at the Redlands Presbyterian Church office and was involved in the women's fellowship. As a mother of two, she joined the PTA and served as a girl scout leader for five years. Runkel was a vigorous member of the Edward Dean Museum board in Cherry Valley for 15 years, where she acted as secretary and led the publicity function. In the 1970's, she joined the board of the Lion Gallery, located in the Smiley Library, again directing publicity and helping bring unusual artists to Redlands. Later, she was on the committee for the Redlands Symphony and its annual Gala.
Throughout her life, Runkel was an enthusiastic artist, taking classes in all mediums including oils and acrylics, plastics, clay and enamel on copper. One of her favorite pursuits was photography, and together with John, she delighted in developing original photographs in the family darkroom. As a couple Joanne and John traveled extensively, both overseas to destinations such as Russia, China and Africa, and domestically, where her destination of choice was Hawaii. But her very favorite avocation was flying. John introduced her to flying and she embraced it with vigor, learning to fly the many Piper aircraft they owned over the years. Joanne and John flew everywhere together, from Mexico, to the Caribbean, to Canada and throughout the United States. Ultimately they combined their love of flying and photography by producing beautiful travelogs of their adventures.
Joanne Runkel is survived by her two children and six grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, November 18, at the First Congregational Church of Redlands, 2 W. Olive Ave.