Meadow Ridge’s Bob Runk Continuing to Make Music & Mirth in Retirement
Throughout his life, 76-year-old Bob Runk has lived by two philosophies—find humor in every situation and practice makes perfect.
Now retired and living at the Meadow Ridge retirement community in Redding, Conn., the musician and author is continuing to grow in his passions using the same philosophies that have defined his life.
Bob has over two dozen tracks on Spotify and has written two successful books on the humorous side of golf. But around Meadow Ridge, he’s known for his enthusiasm for the game of croquet.
In 2018, when he and his late wife, JoAnn, moved to Meadow Ridge, they took up the sport and he’s been playing ever since. Thanks to the tutelage of their “excellent teacher” – another Meadow Ridge resident – and only because Bob practiced “at least twice as much as anyone else,” he’s won a number of community tournaments.
According to Bob, “The croquet court is one of the many attractive assets available to residents of Meadow Ridge, such a great place to live."
But before Bob played croquet, he played golf. He took up the sport to play with his insurance clients during his long career insuring commercial aviation risks for companies such as UPS and Southwest Airlines.
Like most things in life, Bob immediately found great humor in golf. He discovered it was a hilarious way to observe human behavior, so much so that it inspired him to write two parodies of golf instruction manuals—How to Line Up Your Fourth Putt and When to Regrip Your Ball Retriever. The books capture the mysterious psychological effect of strange trajectories and mysterious bounces during a round. They feature Bob’s lighthearted view with plenty of one-liners.
Bob’s real passion, though, has always been music. It started with classical piano at the age of nine. “Like most kids, I hated practicing at first but quickly got good enough that I would practice on my own for three or four hours a day,” he said.
In the 1960s, while attending Wesleyan University he helped found the rock band Uranus and the Five Moons and played at colleges all over the Northeast. They quickly became known as “the best party band ever,” and not just because they drove a retrofitted hearse to their gigs.
Throughout his life, Bob has continued writing, playing and producing music with the ardent support of JoAnn, who was also an artist.
Together, Bob and JoAnn had two children. In 1998, at the young age of 42, she was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s disease, the same age that Michael J. Fox was diagnosed.
Bob gathered professional musicians from New York and hosted a fundraiser on JoAnn’s birthday in a tribute to her. The concert raised $50,000 for the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
A few years later, Bob was fortunate to connect with music producer Gary Katz, a well-known producer for many artists, most notably Steely Dan.
“Every day for six weeks near Indianapolis, we worked with eight other musicians to produce an album, Good Company, on which I wrote, sang and played keyboards. It was a great experience,” said Bob.
After their children were grown and they retired from their day jobs, the pair began spending winters in Vero Beach, Florida. In 2018, JoAnn’s Parkinson’s progressed to a point where she couldn’t make the trip any longer, so they moved into Meadow Ridge, where she could have additional support.
“We couldn’t have picked a better place, and we looked at quite a few,” said Bob.
The den at Bob’s apartment at Meadow Ridge houses his music studio where he writes, plays and produces music. A few years ago, he learned how to use music software with the help of a local guy and YouTube videos. He’s been producing on his own ever since. His latest song is Wide-Eyed Girl, a loving tribute to JoAnn.
Besides continuing to make music, Bob enjoys exploring interests on his own, like trying to learn what Bitcoin is all about, participating in college classes offered by Meadow Ridge University and spending time with his two grandchildren.
“I’m looking forward to taking some of the trips that are offered, which were difficult to manage when JoAnn was alive. Meadow Ridge is an outstanding community filled with fascinating people and many opportunities to learn and grow. I’m very happy to be here,” he said.