Clive Runnells, Jr., 93, died peacefully at his home on April 26, 2019.
Clive was a loving husband, father, stepfather, grandfather, great grandfather, and mentor. He and his wife Kathy gave each other great joy in the last few years. He was a larger-than-life presence who always spoke the truth even when it wasn’t what you wanted to hear. He valued friendships and his loyal friends touched his life deeply.
Clive was born on January 16, 1926 in Chicago to Clive Runnells, Sr. and Mary Withers Runnells. His mother instilled in young Clive the values of compassion and generosity, which defined his life.
He was a graduate of St. Paul’s School in Concord, NH and Yale University, where he claimed to have been neither a good student nor an outstanding athlete. His education was interrupted for a brief time while he was sent to train as an Aviation Cadet in the US Navy in Pensacola. The war ended before he was sent overseas, and he resumed his studies at Yale to graduate. Great-grandson of legendary rancher Abel Head (Shanghai) Pierce, his roots run deep in Texas. He arrived in Houston in 1950. Early on, he worked for Pure Oil Company and Wilson Supply Company and pursued ranching interests in Matagorda and Brooks Counties. He was a pioneer in both the mutual fund and cable television industries, serving on both the Investment Company Institute and National Cable Television boards and often advocating before Congress on their behalf. In the mid-70’s he organized Gulf Coast Cable Television. He was Chairman and CEO of Runnells Peters Cattle Company and Runnells Peters Feedyards.
Clive’s civic and philanthropic activities were wide-ranging, from education to medical research to conservation. He was a life-long supporter of St Paul’s School. He was the benefactor of the Nancy, Clive and Pierce Runnells Distinguished Chair in Neurosurgery at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. He was past chairman of the Mental Health Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County, a past president of The Gathering Place, and a director of the Mental Health Association. He was a life member of the Development Board of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. His strong commitment to protecting and preserving the natural resources of Texas motivated him to donate to The Nature Conservancy of Texas 3,148 acres of coastal wetlands and upland prairies along the Texas coast now known as the Clive Runnells Family Mad Island Marsh Preserve. He was a director of the Grand Parkway Association and served as chairman and director of the Texas Turnpike Authority and a director of Texas High-Speed Rail. He was on the Honorary Advisory Council of the Memorial Hermann Foundation and a trustee of the Hermann Eye Fund.
Motivated by the grievous spinal cord injury suffered by his son Pierce, Clive generously supported stem cell research and its potential to help heal spinal cord damage at UTHealth, and later supported the promise of stem cells to help age-related macular degeneration.
He was on the board of directors of the Dallas-Houston branch of the Federal Reserve Bank and served as president of the Gulf Coast Medical Foundation. He has served as director of the Houston Symphony Society, as a member of Rice University Associates, as a director of TIRR, and as a trustee of St Paul’s School. Clive’s lifelong love of flying led to his service on the Advisory Board of The Smithsonian Air & Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center. He was the Vice Chair of the Smithsonian’s National Board. He was active in the Houston Chamber of Commerce, serving as a member of the Regional Mobility Committee. He is a past director and president of Criterion Funds, and a past director of Criterion Group.
Clive is survived by his wife, Kathryn Smyth Runnells; two children Helen Runnells DuBois and Clive Runnells III, their spouses, Ray DuBois and Kathryn Runnells, four stepchildren: Amy Firestone Goodrich and husband Hart, Jeff Firestone and wife Heather, Calvin Garwood and wife Sally, Samuel Pyne and wife Mary Sommers; grandchildren, Clive Runnells IV, Pierre DuBois, Mary DuBois, Stephen, Grace, and Andrew Firestone; Katie and Kolin Hamilton, Dessie and Dudley Tarlton, Elisa Kumar and husband Dhruv, Matthew Goodrich, and Camille and Marguerite Pyne; great-grandchildren Baxter, JD, and Ella Hamilton; nephew John S Runnells III, and nieces Mary Runnells and Gale Runnells. Clive was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Nancy Morgan Runnells, son Pierce Runnells, stepson David Firestone and stepson John Garwood; his brother, John Runnells II and wife Louise; and his first wife Winifred Trimble Carter, mother of his children.
Our family is particularly grateful to those who dedicated themselves to making Clive’s life easier, including Sheila Soria, Salameh Taher Al Kharouf, Shayla Everson, Yolanda Chavez, Karina Alverez, Lala Ruta, Josie Micaller, and Cindy Barajas.
We wish to express gratitude to Clive’s doctors and medical staff for their passionate and professional care, especially Giuseppe Colasurdo, MD, K. Lance Gould, MD, Carmel Dyer, MD, and Robert Light, MD.
Friends are cordially invited to gather with the family and share remembrances of Clive during a reception to be held from five o’clock until seven o’clock in the evening on Wednesday, May 1, 2019 at the Bradshaw-Carter Funeral Home, 1734 West Alabama Street in Houston.
A memorial service will be conducted at half past ten o’clock in the morning on Thursday, May 2, 2019 at the Church of St. John the Divine, 2450 River Oaks Boulevard in Houston, where The Bishop Gary Lillibridge and the Reverend John R Pitts will officiate. A reception will follow at a location to be announced. A private family burial will take place at a later date at the Hawley Cemetery in Blessing, Texas.
Serving as honorary pallbearers are his dear old friends: Sandy Dale, David Doherty, Gilbert Gaedke, Billy Griffith, John Matthiessen, Mike McLanahan, Jim Peters, John Pitts, and Patti Young.
In lieu of customary remembrances, the family requests with gratitude that memorial contributions in his name be made to UTHealth, Office of Development, PO Box 1321, Houston, TX 77251, directed to UTHealth Stem Cell Research Program; or to Houston Audubon Society, 440 Wilchester Blvd, Houston, TX 77079; or to St. Paul’s School, 325 Pleasant St, Concord, NH 03301; or to the charity of your choice.
UTHealth, Office of Development
PO Box Box 1321, Houston TX 77251
St. Paul's School
325 Pleasant Street, Concord NH 03301