of Benton, AR
August 11, 1957 - February 11, 2023
Son, Husband, Daddy, Paw-Paw, Friend, Santa, Gentle Giant. These are just some of the words used to describe Jerry Runyan.Jerry Stuart Runyan, Jr. was born on August 11, 1957. From the moment he was born, he had a larger than life presence. He was welcomed to this world in Fort Smith, AR to Jerry Stuart Runyan, Sr, Rosemary Runyan and an overprotective big sister, Lynne. He graduated high school from Pine Bluff High School in 1975. His first job was at Pizza Inn, where he learned to sling pizza dough like a pro, a skill he would use for years to come to impress family and friends. He then got a job stocking Coke machines on college campuses. It was during that time he realized all the pretty girls go to college, so he was going to go to college, too.He attended UCA where he met the prettiest of all the girls, the love of his life, Sharon Dains, on the front steps of the cafeteria. From that moment on, they were inseparable. Jerry and Sharon were wed on May 20, 1978.Jerry chose to take a break from college to start a family, but was always determined to finish his degree. He graduated with his Social Work Degree in 1984 from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.In 1984, Jerry and Sharon moved to Benton, AR to set deep roots. They had 3 beautiful (and just as stubborn as their Daddy) daughters, Rosemary, Rachel and Catherine. Summers were always spent camping, going to Silver Dollar City and seeing who could hold onto the tube the longest when Daddy was driving the boat. He prided himself on being able to scare off boyfriends coming to pick up his girls just by opening the front door. All 3 daughters were Daddy's Girls, through and through. Each of the girls found spouses that loved them almost as fiercely as their Daddy did. Kier Heyl, Russell Powell, and LJ Marlett became the sons Jerry never had. He loved them as if they were his own.Jerry was a Social Worker for the Arkansas Department of Corrections for 25 years. In his time, he helped start the Boot Camp Program, worked to write the programming for Mental Health in the system and eventually became Mental Health Coordinator for the State of Arkansas Department of Corrections. The number of lives he touched and changed during his service is immeasurable.Throughout his life, Jerry seemed to always bring joy with him by choosing to find the good in every situation. He was a mountain of a man at 6'7" but had a heart of gold. He was a longtime member of Salem United Methodist Church. He was one of the best church league basketball players, the most fun youth counselor and continued to support the children's and youth programs through the years.He was passionate about the Razorbacks and was their #1 Arm-Chair Coach. He was famous in the neighborhood for his extra loud coaching and cheering. If the windows were open, the whole street could hear his yelling at the TV. Like any true hippie, he loved rock and roll and everything tie-dye. He was notorious for saying "I'll go, but can I still wear my tie-dye?" Of all the titles he held in this life, Paw-Paw was one of his most favorite. Jerry had 3 grandchildren, Raeghan Powell, Will Heyl and Corbin Heyl. They were the light of his life and best friends. Paw-Paw had the coolest toys (including over 13,000 Hot Wheels cars), the best jokes and always snuck extra chocolate for dessert when parents weren't looking. Jerry spent the last several years fighting multiple health issues, but boy did he ever fight! His family was everything to him and he was determined that nothing was going to take him from his family. He fought with every ounce of his being until the very end. Surrounded by his family, on Feb 11 at 1:34am, Jerry took his last breath here on Earth and was welcomed Home by his Savior, his parents, sister and special family friend, Amy.The family wants to say a special thanks to the medical staff that cared for and saved Jerry many times the last few years, notably Dr. Deb Quade, Dr. Lewis Porter and APRN Lori Wise. Pallbearers are family friends, Steve Emmons and Chuck McGinty; Brother-in-law, Mike Schmidt and sons-in-law, Kier Heyl, Russell Powell and LJ Marlett.Visitation will be Thursday, February 16 from 6-8pm at Roller Alcoa Funeral Home. Services will be officiated by Rev Justin Ledbetter on Friday, February 17 at 1pm at Salem United Methodist Church in Benton with Graveside to follow at Pinecrest Cemetery.In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Salem United Methodist Church Youth Group at www.sumcb.org/give
He was one of the nicest persons I have ever met. He will be missed.
May God grant you some measure of peace during this difficult time. Jerry was a good and upright man. He will be missed 😢
I had the pleasure of meeting Jerry almost 20 years ago .Him & his family would come to Burger King for breakfast. He always had a smile on his face & loved joking with the workers. He was a sweetheart for a very tall man, I'm not 5 foot tall & he use to tease me about how he hovered over me. So sorry to hear of his passing. Love & prayers for his family.
Sharon and girls, we are so sorry for your loss of Jerry. We will keep you in our thoughts and prayers.
Sharon and family, I am very sorry for your great loss. My prayers are with you all. May your wonderful memories be of comfort to you.
We are so sorry for your loss. He will definitely be missed. Your all in our Thoughts & Prayers.
You will always be my Friend! Love and miss you always . send my prayers to your loving family ❤️❤️
Sharon, it’s with great sorrow to hear of Jerry’s passing. Your strong faith and presence of family and friends will comfort you. Knowing he’s in heaven is true comfort. Jerry will be missed greatly. His personality and passion was bigger than life. Thoughts and prayers my friend. Mary
Sending hugs n prayers . Rosemary Your Daddy sounded like a great fun loving family man.
Sharon,I am really sorry for your loss. May God grant you peace and understanding during this time.
Well, the obituary sums it up about Jerry Runyan. Where do I start. He is a friend, he felt like family even though, he probably didn't know it, he was a Gentle Giant and he was Santa Clause. He had the gray hair, gray beard, rosie cheeks, and the belly. I remember when my granddaughter was younger. She wouldn't go up to a Santa Clause for nothing in the store. Then, Jerry told me about him and wife dressing up as Santa and Mrs. Santa Clause. She walked up to him sat on his lap and came back to the table where me and my husband was sitting. She said, Annie, I have to go tell him one more thing. I said, okay. He was a kind, sweet, loving, gentle person. I always thought of him as a "Teddy Bear." I can go on and on about him. My thoughts and prayers goes out to his family, friends, the ADC Family and most important his church family. Rest in Peace, Jerry! You will be missed and you are and always have been loved. This world is a little sadden because you are not hear but, I know without a doubt, I will see you again in that beautiful place we call, "Heaven."
My heartfelt condolences to the family. LJ and Catherine, you are in my heart and prayers. I’m so sorry for your loss, he sounds like a wonderful man that touched many lives.
Our hearts go out to all of you! Jerry was a gentle giant with a giant heart. He will be missed. Hugs to you dear Sharon, girls, sons in law & grandchildren. You are all in our prayers.
Prayers for this family.Remember him in church and last weeks of prayer for him.He will be missed.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Fly with a Christ Jerry.
I am ready to celebrate Jerry’s life and the knowledge that he is pain free and happy in Heaven with our Lord!!I’m still praying for Sharon and the rest of the family as they grieve and recover from their loss. Much love and hugs!!
Jerry was one of the kindest men I ever met. While I’m duty as a Police Officer in Haskell Jerry fed me several times at Thanksgiving to be with his family that I have grown to love as my own. Jerry you will definitely be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. RIL Mr. Jerry.
You are all in my thoughts and prayers.
Jerry, life will never be the same without you here. You are already so missed. Thankful you were always my second Daddy here on Earth. Love you!
Condolences, words are inadequate to express ... sending hugs. Shalom,