"History of Lincoln, Oneida, and Vilas Counties Wisconsin"

Compiled by George O.Jones, Norman S. McVean and Others. Printed in 1924 by H.C.Cooper. Jr. & Co., Minneapoli-Winona MN. ill. 787 pages. The first two hundred pages are history of the three counties, the remainder of the book is biographies.


Runke, Richard B. prominent attorney of Merrill, was born on a farm in Kewaunee County, Wis., March 13, 1877, son of Henry and Minnie (BRUEMMER) RUNKE. The father was born in Germany and had come to the United States with his mother at the age of four years, Richard B. RUNKE'S paternal grandfather having died in Germany. The family located on the farm in Kewaunee County where Richard B. was born and grew to manhood. He attended the country schools near his home; bent upon a professional career, however, the educational opportunities there offered did not satisfy him, and upon finishing he took up high school studies on his own account, securing the necessary books and studying from them at home, with no guidance but his own ambition. By this means and by frugal conservation of his earnings he was enabled to enter the University of Wisconsin at the age of 19 years, passing the entrance examinations to prove the thoroughness of his knowledge of high school subjects, which examinations he would not have had to take had he been a graduate of an accredited high school. Entrance of a student into a state university solely by examination is a most unusualy occurrence, and in Mr. RUNKE'S case it well illustrates the force of his character. Upon graduating from the university with the degree of S. B. in 1900 Mr. RUNKE matriculated in the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and began the study of law. He left that institution before graduating, but finished his law studies by private reading and was admitted to the Wisconsin bar in 1903. Forming a partnership with Thomas H. RYAN, he then began practice in Merrill, and he has since followed his profession here. His association with Mr. RYAN continued until 1912, when the latter established an office in Wausau. In 1914 Mr. RUNKE formed a partnership with Carl NAFFZ; in 1918 Mr. NAFFZ left to serve as an officer in the army during the World War, and upon his return this partnership was dissolved. Since 1918 Mr. RUNKE has carried on his practice alone. In connection with his legal work he owns and conducts the Allen Insurance Agency, which does a large business. His specialty is land titles and real estate law, and in this branch of his profession he has built up a wide reputation. He served as postmaster at Merrill from 1913 until 1921, being force to resign by the pressure of his other interests. He has taken a prominent part in many of the leading developments of his city. He was president of the Merrill library board, and was chairman of the building committee which supervised the erection of the present quarters of that institution under the Carnegie benefaction. He is a member of the Rotary Club and during the war period was president of this club at Merrill and was sent as a delegate to the international convention of Rotarians held at Kansas City. He and his family are members of the Presbyterian Church, in which he is an elder, and he was a member of the building committee which had charged of the work on the beautiful new edifice recently erected by the congregation. He is president of the board of the Lincoln County Training School, having succeeded his former partner, Mr. RYAN, to that office. Fraternally he belongs to the Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, and the Masons, having been admited to the Shrine in the latter order and having been a member of the consistory class of 1915; in 1914 he was chancellor commander of the Knights of Pythias. He is president of the Lincoln Farm and Timber Co. and is the principal stockholder in this concern. As a member of the Lincoln County bar he has won distinction and leadership among his professional associates. Mr. RUNKE was married in 1906 to Miss Anna PEACOCK, of Argyle, Wis. Four children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. RUNKE: Glen R., now attending Ripon College at Ripon, Wis., having completed his high school studies at Merrill; Richard P., a student in the Merrill High School; Ruth Jane, also attending that institution; and Robert C., now a student in the Lincoln County Training School Model Department.

Transcribed by Susan Swanson, from pages 694; History of Lincoln, Oneida and Vilas Counties Wisconsin; Compiled by George O. Jones, Norman S. McVean and Others 1924, H. C. Cooper, Jr. & Co

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