Happy Birthday Jean

Last Friday morning, members of the staff of Runyon Saltzman Einhorn gathered in their nifty new-ish office café to recognize the birthday of Jean Runyon, company founder, who died more than five years ago at the age of 82.

Every March 6 since then, RSE’s owners have ballyhooed that date so those who didn’t have a chance to know and/or work with her – less than 30 of a current employee roster of 72 — will have at least some insight into her unique personality and enduring accomplishments.
It wasn’t a long, drawn-out gathering. We ate breakfast, played a video and recalled some of the hilarious and touching stories that, to this day, make Jean so distinguishable.

We get a good turnout each year, not just because we offer free food (although that’s probably a huge incentive) but also because there is genuine interest on the part of newbies and lingering affection on the part of the old-timers.

One employee, Daniel Senecka, couldn’t attend but let us know with the following: “As the (what I assume) newest hire, I never got the chance to meet Ms. Runyon, although many friends and mentors did. Each one has a unique, fond reverence and warmth for her that could only be the result of a full and successful life.”

Daniel’s comments reminded me of a note sent on March 6, 2013 by a former employee, Allyson Conwell, who noted: “I’m sure she’s celebrating in style and making everyone laugh and feel like a million bucks.” Allyson, who was pregnant at the time, said before she knew she was going to have a son, she and her husband had decided a daughter’s middle name was going to be Jean, “for being one of the most talented, kind-hearted, amazing women I have ever known.”

In late 2013, another former employee, Dean Chance, wrote a wonderful story in memory of Jean, concluding with the following:

“At the time of her death (October 24, 2009), Jean had been a Sacramento businesswoman for more than 50 years, devoting much of her time and money to charities and raising millions of dollars for local causes, especially the arts.

“She was also a power broker, who put hundreds of people together so they could build and develop the community and she helped shape its social, business, cultural and sports institutions.

“If you love this city, you owe Jean Runyon a huge debt of gratitude.”

These, and the sentiments of hundreds of others that are expressed to us all the time, are the reasons we make a big deal over March 6 each year.

It’s the least we can do.

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