Lindsey Funeral Homes

473 South Main Street, Harrisonburg, VA


Sara "Betsy" Elizabeth (Dilmore) Runyan

August 10, 1945August 5, 2019

Sara Elizabeth (Betsy) Runyan 73, passed away on Monday, August 5, 2019, in the memory care unit at Bellaire at Stone Port. Betsy was born August 10, 1945, in Clarksburg, WV and was the daughter of the late E. J. and Lois Dilmore.

Betsy grew up in Clarksburg, WV and graduated from Washington and Irving High School in 1963. She grew up surrounded by her large extended family which included many aunts, uncles and cousins. Following High School, Betsy attended Madison College for Women and graduated in 1967 with a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Speech Pathology. During her collegiate career she was an active member of Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority and was elected President in her senior year. During her junior year in college, Betsy met her future husband, Charles Runyan. They married a year later during her senior year in college. Following her graduation, they relocated to Lexington, KY where Betsy taught 1st grade at Lin-Lee Elementary School. Her passion for speech pathology led her to leave the classroom and pursue her master's degree at the University of Kentucky. She completed the program in 1970 and was subsequently hired as a speech language pathologist by the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington. While working there, she and her husband were blessed with the birth of their first daughter, Mary Margaret (Marnie) in 1972. Betsy's love for speech pathology influenced her husband to change careers and he also earned his Master's degree in Speech Pathology at the University of Kentucky. Following his graduation, they relocated to Perdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana where she was hired as a clinical supervisor in the Speech Pathology Department while her husband was enrolled in the doctoral program in Speech Language Pathology. Before leaving Perdue they were blessed with second daughter, Rachel Sara in 1974.

Following the completion of her husband's doctorate, Betsy and her family returned to her alma mater Madison College where she and her husband were both hired as professors in the area of Speech Pathology. During her time as a professor at Madison College (soon to become James Madison University) Betsy served as a faculty advisor to the Tri-Sigma sorority for many years. In addition to being a professor, Betsy became the Director of the Speech and Language Clinic at JMU until her retirement in 2006. Professionally, she was an active member of the American Speech and Language Association (ASHA) and she was elected President of the College and University Clinical Supervisors Interest Group of the American Speech and Language Association. She was a member of Speech Hearing Association of Virginia (SHAV). Betsy served for approximately 25 years as a consultant in Speech Language Pathologist at Bridgewater Retirement home. Also, during her professional career, Betsy and her husband published numerous chapters and conducted workshops in the area of treating children and adults who stuttered. In addition, she shared an active private practice with her husband in Winchester, VA where she treated individuals who stuttered.

During her time in Harrisonburg, Betsy and her family were members of First Presbyterian Church on Court Square where she attended while in college. Betsy was a woman of many artistic talents, which included sewing, designing and gourmet cooking. She loved to entertain and was known for her annual Kentucky Derby Party's where she and her husband could bring a little Kentucky to the Valley. She and her family were members of Spotswood Country Club where she and her husband would enjoy meeting friends and having Friday date nights.

Betsy is survived by her husband, of 52 years, Charles; daughter Mary Margaret (Marnie) Godfrey and husband Brent, grandson Gabriel Robert, granddaughters Gracen Elizabeth and Greta Anne of Harrisonburg, VA and daughter Rachel Runyan Orndorff and husband Ryan; granddaughter Avenelle Rose and grandson Charles Ryan of Vienna, VA. She was preceded in death by her parents, E. J. and Lois Dilmore and her sister, Mary Ann Garthwaite.

A memorial celebration of Betsy's life will be held on 4 pm, Friday, August 9, 2019 at First Presbyterian Church, with Rev. Dr. Jon Heeringa officiating. The family will receive friends one hour prior to the memorial celebration at the church in Showker Hall. There is no public viewing as her wishes were to be cremated.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are encouraged to be made in Betsy's memory to the "JMU Communications Sciences and Disorders Fund" in care of the JMU Foundation, 1320 S. Main Street., MSC 8501, Harrisonburg, VA 22807.

Lindsey Funeral Home in Harrisonburg is handling arrangements. Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting www.lindseyharrisonburg.com.


  • JMU Communications Sciences & Disorders Fund


  • Visitation Friday, August 9, 2019
  • Memorial Celebration Friday, August 9, 2019


Sara "Betsy" Elizabeth (Dilmore) Runyan

have a memory or condolence to add?

Pat Dewey

August 12, 2019

Betsy will be remembered for her professionalism and many contributions to our profession and to her colleagues. Classy lady!

Eppie Ehlers

August 11, 2019

Hello! My name is Eppie Ehlers, and I am currently pursuing my masters in speech-language pathology at James Madison University. When I completed undergrad in 2018, I received the Sara Elizabeth Runyan Service Award. I was very moved to receive an award honoring such an extraordinary women. This is a very important and rewarding field, and the work of Mrs. Runyan made a difference in many lives. The Communication
Sciences and Disorders department at JMU is forever better because of her influence. I will always cherish this award as a reminder of her dedication and kindness, and I am thankful for her lasting legacy.

Barbara McKee

August 8, 2019

I have many fond memories of Betsy and your family. I remember the first time we met at the opening JMU celebration shortly after your family moved to town. Also, who could forget the family trips to Hilton Head, trips to the track, or Derby Day. I will miss Betsy. I wish you and your family strength and comfort at this sad time.

Shirley Jo Dillmore Fain

August 7, 2019

Betsy was my Cousin and was one year older than me. We used to walk together every morning to High School with a bunch of other kids we picked up on the way. I always thought she was so beautiful and wished I were as pretty. Her Dad and my Dad were Brothers. We were in the same speech class together also. She always dresses her girls so pretty. Her Dad,my Uncle Ec,was one of my favorite Uncles. I sure wish we had kept in touch over the years,but I know we will meet again in Heaven.

Shirley Jo Dillmore Fain

Esther Minskoff

August 7, 2019

Dear Chuck and family, I extend my deepest sympathy on the passing of Betsy. She had such a vibrant personality and her smile lit up the world. She was an outstanding professional who was respected by all her JMU colleagues. She will be missed.

Darlene Didrickson

August 7, 2019

Mrs. Runyan was a true inspiration to me in both my undergraduate and graduate years at JMU. She taught me so much about language development in a way I understood. Her lessons were exciting and relevant, and as a practicing SLP thirty-three years post graduation, her wisdom and kind ways always stay with me. Dr. Charles Runyan was equally inspired me as well. The Runyans love for their girls was obvious, and as a student I always enjoyed having the girls attend class with Mrs. Runyan. My heart felt condolences go out to Dr. Runyan and the family. Betsy was one of a kind!

Jeffrey Lewis

August 7, 2019

I met Betsy and Chuck Runyan shortly after my marriage. We were all living in West Lafayette, IN and became a part of a larger family at Purdue University. Betsy was an impressive woman: A first-class person and a quality professional. She added to every person and place I've seen her. She left a legacy of a special husband, wonderful children, and high-quality grandchildren. After a life well-lived, she will be missed.

Ann Hailey

August 7, 2019

Lifting prayers for the family ! Wonderful memories of JMU days and the many skills I learned as a speech pathologist there! She instilled techniques that were timeless and easy implemented to this day! Thankful she and her wonderful husband helped me to grow into the speech pathologist I am today!
Ann West Hailey

Donald Lemish

August 6, 2019

Chuck, condolences to you and your entire family. Betsy was a “sister” and very special friend to Susy, and friend to me. I have a deep appreciation for all the happy times we had together. God bless you and peace be with you.

Kim Gaither

August 6, 2019

Dr. Runyan: please accept my sincere condolences. Betsy had such a vibrant spirit that lit up a room. May happy memories carry you and your family through these difficult days.
Your in my thoughts and prayers.