Deaths Elsewhere

May 05, 2004

Marvin Runyon,

79, the U.S. postmaster general in the 1990s who stressed customer service, tight budgeting, automation and other workplace reforms, died of lung disease Monday at his home in Nashville, Tenn.

A one-time Ford assembly line worker who rose to be a top auto executive, Mr. Runyon had a sometimes stormy tenure overseeing the nation's mail system from 1992 to 1998. He trimmed management jobs by 23,000 while adding letter carriers and other employees to improve customer service and getting the agency's budget into the black.

The Postal Service adopted just one price increase for regular stamps during that period, from 29 cents to 32 cents.

Mr. Runyon continued his predecessors' effort to boost sales by bringing out stamps honoring pop culture figures, including Marilyn Monroe in 1995 and James Dean in 1996. He was credited with creating a training program to prevent workplace violence, which had been a key Postal Service problem since the 1986 slayings of 14 at an Edmond, Okla., post office.

He worked 37 years with Ford. Mr. Runyon, after taking early retirement in 1980, became Japanese competitor Nissan's first employee in the United States. Under his stewardship, Nissan's factory in Smyrna, Tenn., became one of the country's most automated vehicle-assembly plants.

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan named Mr. Runyon chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority, a job he held until becoming postmaster general. At the federal utility, he earned the nickname "Carvin' Marvin" for slashing the payroll.

David S. Sheridan,

95, dubbed the "catheter king" for his invention of the modern disposable catheter, died Thursday at his home in Argyle, N.Y.

A grade-school dropout who held more than 50 patents on medical instruments, he helped found four companies and aided in building the Argyle and Glens Falls area of rural New York into what is considered the catheter capital of America.

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