Eric Runnerstrom

Obituary of Eric Runnerstrom

Eric Runnerstrom, age 77, died of heart failure on January 3rd, 2024 in the house that he built. He was bornin Bayville, New York on October 30th, 1946, the son of Lillian Tagliabue and Robert Runnerstrom. He attended Bayville Elementary where he received *satisfactory* markings in Cooperation and Music, and *superior* markings in Attendance and Working Carefully.

At the age of 16 he built his first car engine, a 3.4-litre Jaguar XK with a dual overhead camshaft. Whethert his engine ever made it to the inside of a car is unknown. That same year he began a boat-maintenance-and-repair business, in which he found ample joy from the maintenance work and ample aggravation in dealing with his customers.

Following his high school graduation, he was one of twelve people in the country to be given a full tuition invitation to the Webb Institute of Naval Architecture in Glen Cove, Long Island, New York. In addition to being a prestigious college, Webb’s original campus building was also used as the movie set of Wayne Manor in the 1995 film Batman Forever starring Val Kilmer, which Eric was later forced to rewatch by his son countless times following its release to home video.

Eric joined the United States Navy in 1970, and on October 8th of that same year his first son, also named Eric, was born.

Eric served a tour of duty in the Vietnam War from 1970-1972, which took him to Australia, Thailand, Japan and Hawaii.

In 1974, after being awarded a Letter of Commendation as a Ship Superintendent, the Navy sent him to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) where he achieved a degree in Ocean Engineering and a Masters in Naval Architecture and was awarded the Naval Sea Systems Command Award for best total performance in the graduating class. In addition to being a prestigious college, an M.I.T. lecture hall was also used as a movie-set in the 2016 film Captain America: Civil War starring Chris Evan, a film Eric was later quite happy to rewatch countless times when it became available on Disney+.

His first daughter, Jennifer, was born August 12th, 1984.

In the summer of 1986, Eric was assigned to oversee a Naval project based in Pentagon City, Virginia where he met Michelle, a talented, stubborn, IT consultant assigned to the same project. While Eric’s own talentand stubbornness might have ruined all, fate eventually willed out by way of a pivotal pink dress and along, blithesome walk through the cherry blossoms on the national mall.

Eric and Michelle eloped across the country and were married on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe on Thanksgiving day, November 26th, 1987. They settled in Long Beach, California where Eric’s second son, Daniel, would be born on December 29th, 1988.

Eric retired from the United States Navy in 1989 as a decorated Commander. In May of 1990, after driving across the country for a second time, he and Michelle bought a house in Falls Church, Virginia. At the time it had two floors, three bedrooms and a very small galley kitchen. He also started working for MPR Associates, an engineering firm in Old Town, Alexandria with no relation to the National Public Radio. His second daughter, Kathryn, was born on July 30th, 1991 and his third daughter, Natalie, on December 29th, 1994.

At some point in the late ‘90s, Eric achieved a full head of gray hair prompting some to say he looked like Bill Clinton, a comparison Eric was never fond of. Later, in the 2000’s, the gray turned to the fluffiest white. In May of 2004, he purchased his first Porsche Boxster convertible, in atlas gray, with a Flat 6 3.2 Liter mid-engine with 240 horsepower and a manual transmission.

In October of 2015, he purchased his second Porsche, a Boxster GTS convertible in carmine red with a 3.4 Liter 6-cylinder mid-engine with 330 horsepower and an automatic transmission.

He retired from MPR Associates in January 2019.

In the intervening five years he traveled to Hungary, Austria, Scotland, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis,New Jersey, New York City, Lancaster, Salem and a multitude of microbreweries in the greater DMV metropolitan area. He saw Fleetwood Mac live in concert. He baked cookies. He smoked meats. He roasted coffee. He worked on his car. He played with his dog, Mina. He invested in small businesses. He regularly attended Orangetheory. He rode on jet skis. He did performance driving on race tracks. He went sailing. He flew a plane. He saw two of his children get married. He danced (slowly and to his own rhythm). He told a lot of long stories. He fixed a lot of broken appliances. He watched a lot of Westerns. He ate well. He drank well.

He was preceded by his son Eric and is survived by his loving wife Michelle Runnerstrom, his son Daniel Runnerstrom, his three daughters Kathryn Runnerstrom, Natalie Runnerstrom, and Jennifer Dudley and his three grandchildren, Calvin Dudley, Ryan Dudley and Lia Dudley, and his house in Falls Church, which now has three floors, four bedrooms, new floors, walls and windows, and a bigger kitchen where he will always be remembered.


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