Following is a chronology of the Sacramento-based firms Jean launched, nourished, expanded and left behind:
1955: Runyon & Associates
1960: Company officially incorporated in May 1960 as Runyon-Johnson, Inc.
1961: Name changed to Runyon and Associates.
1964: Jean and Tom Craig, an artist/graphic designer, became joint owners of firm they named Runyon/Craig & Associates.
1967: Peter Dannenfelser became newest owner and the trio renamed their firm Dannenfelser, Runyon, Craig, Inc. (DRC). First office was in Old Sacramento. After a couple more stops, DRC moved to 1616 J St.
1972: Estelle Goodman Saltzman, former reporter/writer/copy editor for Humboldt Times, Eureka, CA, Reno Evening Gazette and Daily News, Van Nuys, went to work for Jean as a writer in DRC PR department, and was initially stationed at the California State Fair, a DRC client.
1976: Jean, Tom and Pete went their separate ways and Jean and Estelle established The Runyon Agency, Inc. in midtown Sacramento.
Estelle became minority shareholder. Jean continued developing and working with clients. Estelle took over management and financial oversight of firm, plus writing and strategy development for various PR clients.
1978: Firm moved to 22nd and L streets, the Dunn Mansion, to accommodate growth spurt, later expanding to an adjacent building affectionately called “The Little House” … because it was.
1982: Jean and Estelle purchased and moved agency to what had been a popular restaurant called The House of Shish Kebab, 25th and K streets. Estelle became equal shareholder and firm name changed to Runyon Saltzman, Inc.
1984: Jane Weagraff, who later remarried and became Jane Einhorn, joined firm in 1980 and became shareholder four years later.
1991: Jane increased her shares and Jim Siegel, who joined staff in 1987 as creative director, also became an owner; firm name changed to Runyon Saltzman Weagraff & Siegel, Inc.
1993: Jim left and company name changed to Runyon Saltzman & Einhorn, Inc. (RSE), reflecting equal ownership of Jean, Estelle and Jane. Agency’s next move was to One Capitol Mall in Old Sacramento.
1999: Scott Rose, client service/public affairs specialist, and Ed Raposa, agency controller, became shareholders. Chris Holben joined company as public relations director.
2004: Ed left firm and later that year, Chris became an agency shareholder.
2009: Jean retired in early 2009 and passed away Oct. 24 at age 82.
2010: Paul McClure joined company in mid-2010 as shareholder and advertising director.
2013: RSE principals were: Estelle, board chair; Jane, client service/business development specialist; Chris, board president/public relations director; Scott, public affairs director; and Paul, advertising director.
2014: Company moved to 2020 L St. where it resided on the occasion of its 60th year.
2016: Jane left the company at the end of year.
2017: Estelle retired at the end of year at age 75.
2020: Runyon Saltzman, Inc. shareholders at this writing in Spring 2020 are: Chris Holben, president; Scott Rose, vice president/public relations/public affairs director; and Paul McClure, vice president/ advertising director.
Before her death, Jean had been a Sacramento businesswoman for more than 50 years. Her specialty was public relations, including press relations, special events coordination, community and political outreach. Through the years, however, her partners and associates helped facilitate the company’s involvement in the world of advertising, branding, digital communications and social marketing.
On her serious side, Jean was a power broker who put people together and devoted much of her time and money to nonprofit organizations, raising millions of dollars for local causes, especially the arts.
On her more playful side, she used her delightfully daft personality to reach out to and touch children and adults alike.
One of her most memorable roles, for example, was as the children’s favorite Storybook Senorita in a 13-week stint on KCRA TV in the 1950s -‘60s. This was followed by numerous non-professional appearances in various local theater productions.
And her finest performance came every Halloween when she climbed on her roof dressed as a scary witch, cackled with all her might, and tossed candy to the glee of hundreds of neighborhood children and friends, as well as a bevy of television cameras.
Following are just some honors Jean received in her career:
1963 First woman “PR Man of the Year,” Sacramento Public Relations Roundtable
1966 Presidential Citation for Distinguished Service-Ford Foundation Grant
1974 United Way Distinguished Community Service Award
1976 Member, California Joint Commission on Fair Judicial Election Practice (appointed by California Governor Jerry Brown)
1977 First woman on Sutter Hospital Board of Trustees
1987 First female member of Rotary Club of Sacramento, eventually named Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International
1986 Inducted into Sacramento Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame
1986 Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
Sacramentan of the Year
1987 American Advertising Federation’s Silver Medalist Award from Sacramento Advertising Club
1991 Woman of Decade Award, Sacramento YWCA
1992 Sacramento Public Relations Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award
1995 Association of Fundraising Professionals (California Capital Chapter) Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser, in conjunction with National Philanthropy Day
1999 California State Fair Golden Bear Award winner
2000 Group of ardent fans raised $300,000+ and in partnership with City of Sacramento, renovated small theater in Sacramento Memorial Auditorium, renaming it the “Jean Runyon Little Theater” in honor of her 70th birthday
2003 Athena Award at Sacramento Bee’s annual Woman’s Day event from Athena Foundation (national women’s leadership organization)
2009 Runyon Saltzman, Inc., established JEANIE Award as annual internal recognition of its employees who exhibited most Jean-like qualities.
2011 Sacramento Non-Profit Resource Center established annual Jean Runyon Community Leadership Award.
2012 Posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award from Sacramento Public Relations Association (second time she received award from same organization)
2020 Rotary Club of Sacramento created Jean Runyon Community Service Award to be given annually to club member who best mirrored the outstanding leadership traits Jean displayed