The world of animal rights activism lost one of its brightest lights last week. The death of Barbara Runyan was a tragedy felt locally and around the globe.

Tributes poured in from all over the world as news spread of the Hunter native’s death at the age of 51. Runyan, who was known to most everyone as Missy, founded the Friends of the Feathered and Furry Wildlife Center.

Runyan dedicated her life to saving and rehabilitating animals and taught others how to treat and manage wildlife.

Runyan opened the wildlife center on Route 23A in Hunter in 2002. Conceptually, its aim was to give injured and sick animals a second chance at life. Runyan and her expert volunteer staff treated bears, geese, ducks, owls, foxes, deer, rabbits, as well as creatures such as turtles, snakes and woodpeckers.

The wildlife center’s reach extended beyond Hunter and Greene County. In May, two baby opossums received a second lease on life when they were brought to the center after they were found wandering on Green Street in Hudson.

Runyan and her staff spent countless hours at the center feeding and cleaning the animals, changing bandages and caring for the rescued animals, often around the clock, day and night.

Runyan’s work was known and respected in Europe, Asia and Latin America. She was a power for good in a world scarred by COVID-19 and split along racial, political and social divides. With her almost preternatural love for animals, she was a unifying force dedicated to the respect of all forms of life, however small.

“You were truly an earth angel,” one social media post declared about Runyan. We could not agree more.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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