BY PATRICIA SPANGLER, Assistant Director of University Relations, Andrews University, writing from Berrien Springs, Michigan
Leona Glidden Running, 97, professor emerita of biblical
languages at Andrews University, died on Jan. 22, 2014, in Berrien Springs,
Mich., after nearly six decades of service to the Seventh-day Adventist
Theological Seminary and Andrews University.
Andreasen, president of Andrews University, shared the following statement: “During her long and productive
life Dr. Running broke new ground in the University and in the Seventh-day
Adventist Church. She was the first female professor at the Seventh-day
Adventist Theological Seminary in Takoma Park, Md., and later here at Andrews.
She was the first Adventist woman to earn a doctorate in Ancient Near Eastern
Studies (Johns Hopkins University), with a specialization in ancient Syriac
texts. She overcame the grief of losing her husband early in life and built her
exemplary academic and professional calling. Following her retirement she
continued to share her linguistic skill with graduate students (Syriac,
Egyptian, Akkadian, Hebrew, Aramaic, and almost any other language these
students cared to learn). And she served the University with her editorial
talents, improving a good many of its publications over the years… She was an
inspiration to many and an example to us all.”
Jiři Moskala, dean of the Andrews University Seventh-day
Adventist Theological Seminary, says: “Dr. Running holds a special place in the
hearts of her Old Testament and Seminary colleagues and former students, who
greatly appreciated her mentoring during their Seminary years. She was the
first woman professor at the SDA Theological Seminary and was indeed a woman of
remarkable skills and influence… We praise the Lord for her life and faithful ministry!”
Shea, a close colleague, estimates that “Leona assisted more students in
writing doctoral dissertations than any other faculty member of Andrews
University. She has probably touched the educational lives of more Seventh-day
Adventist ministers than any other woman except Ellen White.”
on Aug. 24, 1916, in Flint, Mich., to Charles Comstock Glidden and Leona Mary
Bertha Boat Glidden, Leona showed an early attraction to languages. Her mother,
a teacher, began coaching her in reading skills when she was 3 or 4, and she
entered Grade 4 at age 8. She graduated from Adelphian Academy in Holly, Mich.
graduated from Andrews University (then Emmanuel Missionary College) as
valedictorian in 1937 with a Bachelor of Arts with a concentration in modern
languages. She went on to earn an M.A. in Greek and Hebrew from the Adventist
Theological Seminary in 1955, and a Ph.D. in Semitic languages from Johns
Hopkins University in 1964.
married Leif (“Bud”) Running on May 17, 1942. On August 20, 1946, when Bud was
37 and Leona almost 30, he died while undergoing his third lung operation.
her early professional years, Running served the Seventh-day Adventist Church
in many capacities. From 1944–1948 she worked in the Foreign Language Division
of the radio program Voice of Prophecy,
translating programs and typing scripts in German, Spanish and Portuguese. In
1950 she moved to Washington, D.C., to become the copy editor for Ministry magazine. During these early
years, Running often earned far less than her male counterparts for doing the
same amount of work. Nevertheless, she continued to do God’s work, traveling to
many European countries, promoting the Seventh-day Adventist Church and, at the
same time, expanding her cultural experience.
began working for the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary in 1955,
teaching Greek and Hebrew. At the time, the president of the seminary was
skeptical about a woman’s ability to teach male students, and male students’
willingness to be taught by a woman. She began teaching on a trial basis, but
in 1956 she was granted regular status and, shortly after, full tenure.
Not content to
sit on the sidelines and watch her students, Running was actively involved in
their professional and personal development, and her guidance helped countless
individuals find their voice. Her strength and determination during a time when
women were not always treated as equals with men, even within the church, were
an inspiration to many.
When the Seminary
was moved from Takoma Park, Md. to Berrien Springs, Mich. in 1960, Running came
with it, continuing on as a valuable and dedicated professor of biblical
languages. Siegfried Horn, professor of history of antiquity at the seminary,
nominated her to the Chicago Society of Biblical Research, and she served as
the first female president from 1981–82.
her many interests, Running traveled extensively. In 1951, she traveled with
Del Delker to the Paris Youth Congress and to seven European countries. Later
she published 36 Days and a Dream,
recounting her trip. In 1957, she joined Siegfried Horn’s first guided study
tour to Europe and the Middle East. She wrote another travelogue of this trip,
published in 1958 as From Thames to
Tigris. In 1965 she traveled through Europe and studied six weeks in
Israel, ending with a trip through Western Turkey and a cruise of the Aegean
isles. In 1970, she again traveled through Europe to spend eight days in Iran,
a weekend on Cyprus, and 10 days in Israel. In 1974, she taught in a summer
session at Newbold College, England, then spent three weeks in both France and
many years Leona collected articles, journals and books on women in ministry.
She donated the collection to the Center for Adventist Research in the James
White Library (http://www.andrews.edu/library/car/collection/R/Running). The most notable of her multiple
publications is William Foxwell Albright:
A Twentieth-Century Genius, published by Morgan Press in 1975, a 436-page
biography on the “Dean of Biblical Archaeologists.”
retired from teaching at her 65th birthday, but for 21 years she continued to
teach Egyptian, Akkadian and Syriac in the seminary, finally quitting in May
2002. At the May 2012 commencement ceremony, Leona was awarded an honorary
Doctor of Humane Letters from Andrews University.
Running was predeceased by her husband, Leif Running; her parents, Charles and
Leona Glidden; her sister, Beth Habenicht; and her niece, Linda Joy Habenicht.
Besides countless former students and
friends around the world, she leaves to mourn her nieces, Merry Habenicht Knoll
and husband Thomas Russell Knoll Sr. of Walla Walla, Wash., and Cheeri Lee
Roberts of Queensbury, N.Y., along with grandnieces and grandnephews: Rebecca Knoll
Lawrence and husband Jay Lawrence of St. Charles, Mo., with two children,
Matthew & Michaela; Thomas Russell Knoll Jr. and wife Deanna Marsh Knoll of
Olympia, Wash,, with two children, Judson and Jakob; Jonathan Andrew Knoll and
wife Bonnie Rick Knoll of Burleson, Texas, with two children, Makena and
Emmalee; Deborah Knoll of Naples, N.C.; Teresa Roberts and husband Falah Fatmi
of Fairfax, Va., with Sophia and Sabrina; Heidi Roberts of Hood River, Ore.;
and Eric Roberts of New York, N.Y.