Nelson-Berna Funeral Home and Crematory

4520 North Crossover Road, P.O. Box 8982, Fayetteville, AR

Phone: 479-521-5000

Bonnie Runnels

Fayetteville, AR

1946 - 2018

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Published: January 11, 2018

Mrs. Bonnie Runnels of Fayetteville, Arkansas, died Tuesday, January 9, 2018, surrounded in love by her family and the supportive staff at Willard Walker Hospice Home. Bonnie was an inspiration to all who ate at her table, appreciated her paintings, celebrated at her parties, walked her gardens, or enjoyed the company of her friendly spirit and easy laughter. She was an artist, wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend, godmother, traveler, and gardener.

Bonnie was born on September 11, 1946, in Cleveland, Ohio, to John and Nancy Szoke. She and her older sister, Nancy, spent their childhood in a small Hungarian neighborhood in South Bend, Indiana, then spent their teen years in California when their parents located to Gardena in 1958. In 1965, at the age of 19, she married a young medical student named Brian Runnels. The couple recently celebrated their 52nd Anniversary on December 26th.

Bonnie tended their three children while Brian completed his residency in Sacramento and Denver, and then military service in Seoul, South Korea. In 1976 they settled in Fayetteville and welcomed their fourth child, completing their family of six. Bonnie selflessly put aside her education and artistic pursuits for the needs of her family until 1995 when she began art courses at the University of Arkansas. Her love of painting drove her to constantly seek further educational and artistic experiences. She participated in workshops with respected painters, including Scott Burdick, Daniel Greene, Susan Lyon, Todd Williams, Huihan Liu, and Guido Frick. Bonnie worked from her home studio, surrounded by acres of rambling gardens, an orchard, and fields, which were at various times inhabited by a flurry of pet sheep, chickens, a dog or two, friends and family, all of which provided bountiful subject matter for her beautiful Impressionistic-style paintings.

Bonnie's artwork was recognized with several noteworthy awards. Her paintings won Best in Show (2007 and 2008) and Best in Oil (2010) at the Artists of Northwest Arkansas Annual Regional Art Exhibition. Her painting was included in the 17th Annual Richard Schmid Silent Art Auction (2012) and the Illinois River Salon (2013). She was a member of the American Impressionist Society, Oil Painters of America, Plein Air Painters of the Ozarks, and a Signature Member of Artists of Northwest Arkansas. Several of her paintings will be on display at the reception following the service.

Her dedication to family, her creative spirit and her tremendous appreciation for all God's creation naturally influenced her to lead a brilliantly artful life that inspires many.

Bonnie is survived by her husband, Vincent Brian Runnels; a son, Ted Runnels (Cassandra Runnels); daughters, Meredith Gentner (Addom Gentner), Jennifer O'Neill (Mike O'Neill), Katie Runnels Graf (Jon Graf); sister, Nancy Borbas (Ivan Borbas); and grandchildren, Maggie O'Neill, Harry O'Neill, Teddy O'Neill, Benjamin O'Neill, Jackson Runnels, Lily Runnels, John McCoy (Mac) Runnels, Reed Gentner, Samuel Gentner and Oliver Graf.

A Mass of Christian burial will be held Saturday, January 13, 2018, at 11 a.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church, preceded by a rosary prayer service at 10:30 a.m. Reception details for family and friends will be announced at the service.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Willard Walker Hospice Home of Fayetteville, Arkansas, or The Arts Center of the Ozarks, Springdale, Arkansas. Arrangements are under the direction of Nelson-Berna Funeral Home.

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