|Gary and Patricia Runes|
“Education is the single most important factor for getting ahead in life,” says Gary Runes. But Runes knows firsthand how difficult it can be for students to overcome financial and other obstacles and earn a degree.
His father passed away when Runes was eight, and his mother, who did not attend college, was not well informed about what it took to get into — and stay in — college. In stepped Runes’ aunt, who impressed upon her nephew the value of a college education. A summer spent working in construction reinforced her arguments: “I hurt so badly it motivated me to go to college,” says Runes, who attended Oregon State for three years before entering dental school at the University of California, Berkeley.
Money was a big issue for Runes, who worked his way through college serving food and washing dishes in sorority and fraternity houses. Over the summers, he helped build shopping centers. Now retired after 28 years of practicing dentistry in California, Runes wants to ensure that other students do not have to face the same struggle. To that end, he created the Anne Runes Wilson Scholarship in honor of his aunt. The scholarship provides support to a woman at a UNCF school who is majoring in economics and accounting. “Our country is falling behind in advanced education,” says Runes, “because not enough students are going into math and science.” Runes’ children and his wife, Patricia, were instrumental in helping pick the first scholarship recipient — a role Runes hopes they will continue to play. As part of his estate plan, he is setting up ways for his children to continue to give to the charities he supports.
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