Marvin T. Runyon – Second Lieutenant, United States Army Government Official

Marvin T. Runyon (September 16 1924–May 3 2004) was an American business executive. After a long career as a manufacturing executive at Ford Motor Company, he retired, then was the U.S. head of Nissan for several years. He later served as chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority and as U.S. Postmaster General.

He was a forceful and charismatic figure who picked up the nicknames “Marvelous Marv” and “Carvin' Marvin.”

Ford Years

He was born in Fort Worth, Texas and started working for Ford at the now-closed Dallas Assembly Plant in 1943, where his father was also employed. He served in the U.S. Army Air Force later during 1943 to 1945 and returned to Ford. After graduation from Texas A&M University in 1948 he began to climb in management, making the rounds through Ford assembly plants in Atlanta, Georgia and Lorain, Ohio during the 1950s. He was a plant manager during the 1960s.

He became an executive at the assembly operations headquarters in 1969 and became assembly division general manager in 1972. From 1973 to 1977 he was vice-president in charge of powertrain and chassis operations, then became vice president in charge of vehicle assembly and body stamping operations in 1978. When he retired at the end of 1980 it was widely rumored that he was going to head all Nissan operations in the United States, but that announcement did not come until several days after he had actually retired.

Nissan Years

In 1981 Runyon became the chief executive of Nissan North America and supervised the construction of its assembly and engine plants in Smyrna, Tennessee. These plants became among the most productive in the auto industry.
He was replaced by another former Ford plant manager, Jerry Benefield, when he moved on to the TVA.

TVA Years

In 1988 Runyon was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to head the Tennessee Valley Authority. While there he reduced costs by 30%.

Postmaster General

Runyon was appointed United States Postmaster General in 1992, at a time when the postal service was struggling with high costs and a poor reputation for service. Runyon's first goal was to treat the United States Postal Service as a business geared toward making money and pleasing customers. He was a cost control expert and instituted cost measurement systems copied from his years with Ford — he even sent senior post office officials to Ford to review their systems. He eliminated 23,000 management jobs, hired more letter carriers and counter employees and emphasized automation to speed mail delivery.

He stepped down in 1998, and began an independent consulting business in Tennessee, which he operated until his death. He also taught business at Middle Tennessee State University.

Marvin Runyon held major leadership positions in both the public and private sectors. As the 70th Postmaster General and chief executive officer of the United States Postal Service, he was responsible for unprecedented positive change and improvements during his six-year tenure from 1992 to 1998. Previously, he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to lead a turnaround at the troubled Tennessee Valley Authority, serving as chairman of the board.

From 1980 to 1988 Runyon was president and chief executive officer of Nissan Motor Manufacturing Corporation, USA, in Smyrna, where he oversaw the start-up of Nissan's first U.S. manufacturing facility. His tenure at Nissan was preceded by a 37-year career at Ford Motor Company.

A U.S. Air Force veteran and a graduate of Texas A&M, Runyon was active in many civic and business organizations. He served on the board of directors of Triad Hospitals and Rpost and was the chairman of the Foundation for the Society of International Business Fellows. He was the incoming chairman of Alive Hospice in Nashville, is on the board of trustees for Centennial Medical Center, and was chairman of the board of Leadership Middle Tennessee. Runyon was also chairholder of the Robert E. and Georgianna West Russell Chair of Manufacturing Excellence at Middle Tennessee State University.


In Memory of Marvin T. Runyon

WHEREAS, The Senate of the State of Texas joins the citizens of Nashville and citizens across the country in mourning the loss of Marvin T. Runyon, our nation's 70th postmaster general, who died May 3, 2004, at the age of 79; and

WHEREAS, Marvin Runyon was postmaster general from 1992 to 1998 and was noted for bringing new dimensions to the United States Postal Service in order to better meet the challenges of business in the 21st century; he laid the groundwork for the postal service's success today by instituting numerous service improvements and spearheading a financial revitalization of the organization; and

WHEREAS, A Dallas native, he was a United States Army Air Corps veteran and was a Texas A&M University graduate; he served as a board member of the university's Nucleus Fund Committee and International Programs Resource Development Committee; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Runyon had long held a reputation as a direct and fair man who had built a strong pattern of success throughout his working life; before joining the postal service, he had a distinguished 45-year career in the private sector and served as head of the Tennessee Valley Authority; and

WHEREAS, After a 37-year career with Ford Motor Company, he became president and chief executive officer of Nissan Motor Manufacturing Corporation U.S.A. and helped build the company's first American operations, in Smyrna, Tennessee; and

WHEREAS, He left Nissan in 1988 to become chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority in Knoxville, where he reduced the utility company's overhead costs and stabilized rates to earn the organization the reputation as one of the most effective federal agencies; and

WHEREAS, Marvin Runyon accepted leadership positions in numerous civic and professional organizations throughout his life, and he received many well-deserved honors and awards for his public service and his contributions to industry; and

WHEREAS, A devoted husband and father, Marvin Runyon lived a full life, and he leaves behind memories that will be treasured forever by his family and many friends; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the Senate of the State of Texas, 78th Legislature, 4th Called Session, hereby extend sincere
condolences to the bereaved family of Marvin T. Runyon:  his wife, Sue Atkinson, and his five children; and, be it further

RESOLVED, That a copy of this Resolution be prepared for the members of his family as an expression of deepest sympathy from the Texas Senate, and that when the Senate adjourns this day, it do so in memory of Marvin Runyon.


  • 2LT   US ARMY
  • DATE OF BIRTH: 09/16/1924
  • DATE OF DEATH: 05/02/2004

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