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Published: Wednesday, 9/27/2006

Ex-Edison worker knitted hats for children in winter

MILLBURY - Gibson R. Runner, 88, a retired Toledo Edison worker who channeled his energy while ill into knitting winter hats for children, died of pneumonia Sunday in St. Charles Mercy Hospital, Oregon.

Mr. Runner had heart bypass surgery about four years and was in poor health afterward.

"He was incapacitated and needed something to do," his daughter Linda Knight said. "My mother is a crafty person. She knits and crochets. He wanted to know how to knit, so my mother taught him. He would straight stitch. She would do patterns."

He made some baby-sized afghans, but most of his effort went into knitting children's winter hats - more than 1,000 over several years, his family estimates. He donated the hats to Zion Lutheran Church-Latcha, which gave them to children in need.

"He was very determined to do something nice for people. It made him very proud," his daughter said.

Born in Oak Harbor, Ohio, Mr. Runner was an Army veteran of World War II and served in the South Pacific. He received two Bronze Stars.

In 35 years at Toledo Edison, his assignments included work at the Bayshore and Davis-Besse power plants. He retired in 1980.

He and his wife, Bernice, met at a dance for people who were widowed, as they had been. He had no children. With his second marriage in 1988, he gained an instant family. They were his children, not stepchildren, daughter Linda said. To the seven grandchildren, he was their only living grandfather.

"He accepted us very well," daughter Linda said. "He loved the grandkids. They're all pretty close. He made us feel like he was our dad, very definitely."

Mr. Runner crafted candle stick holders, crosses, and clocks from wood and gave them to family members. He shredded vast amounts of newspaper as mulch for his vegetable garden. He bowled in a league with his wife until his heart surgery.

He was a Mason and a member of Harbor Light Temple and Eastern Star. He was a member of the High Twelve Club and the Eagles.

Mr. Runner and his first wife, Alice, whom he married in November, 1946, died in 1984.

Surviving are his wife, Bernice, whom he married May 7, 1988; daughters, Linda Knight and Cinda Knight; son, Randy Cook; seven grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

The body will be in the Robinson-Walker Funeral Home, Genoa, after 2 p.m. today. Services will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow in Zion Lutheran Church-Latcha, of which he was a member.

The family suggests tributes to the church or the Hospice of Northwest Ohio.

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