Obituary: Pepperdine Chancellor Emeritus Charles B. Runnels

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Charles B. Runnels

The Pepperdine community mourns the loss of Chancellor Emeritus Charles B. Runnels. He passed away on Oct. 25 at the age of 91.

Runnels served as Pepperdine University’s vice chancellor from 1971 to 1984, and was named chancellor in 1985. In 2006, he was named Chancellor Emeritus, though he continued his work to support the university, according to a university press release.

“He loved students and lived for them,” Pepperdine President Andrew K. Benton said in the release. “Early mornings and late nights were worth it for him because he loved students and, with his loving wife, Amy Jo, was tireless in his work to make Pepperdine better and possible for students.”

Runnels came to Pepperdine in 1967 from Houston-based Tenneco, Inc. to help find a new campus for George Pepperdine College, which was then located in South Central Los Angeles.

He joined the selection committee that ultimately chose to develop the Malibu campus, and he became involved in construction plans for Seaver College, which opened in 1972.

Runnels personally raised money for thousands of student scholarships, always keeping students his top priority, according to information from the university.

In 2010, the Pepperdine honored him by dedicating the Waves’ athletic complex in his name. The Charles B. Runnels Sports and Recreation Village includes the Firestone Fieldhouse, Raleigh Runnels Memorial Pool, Ralphs-Straus Tennis Center, Eddy D. Field Stadium, Tari Frahm Rokus Field and Stotsenberg Track.

He also received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 2010 at the Seaver College commencement ceremony in recognition of his many decades of service to Pepperdine.

Runnels was a father and a grandfather in the Pepperdine family as three of his children, two of their spouses and three of his grandchildren graduated from Pepperdine.

Runnels is survived by his wife Amy Jo, sons Duke and Tyler Runnels, daughter Susan Runnels Plumb, daughters-in-law Ginger Runnels and Jasmine Niklas Runnels, son-in-law Charles Plumb and grandchildren Chase Runnels, Megan Runnels, Alex Robertson, Jessica Robertson, Christopher Runnels and Caitlin Runnels.

A memorial service will be held for Runnels on Nov. 28 at 10:30 a.m. in Firestone Fieldhouse at Pepperdine University.