91-year old skydiver soaks up life, inspires family - WDRB 41 Louisville News

91-year old skydiver soaks up life, inspires family

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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- Few of us have traveled the world.  Even fewer of us will skydive three times after our 80th birthday. Virginia Runge believes that "old" is a dirty word and thinks that life is about taking chances.

She took a chance at age 85 by jumping out of an airplane. She did it again at age 87 and 89.  She sneaks Baileys Irish Cream into her oatmeal. She doesn't play by the rules.

"I 'I've been blessed so much -- I really have," she says.

Now, at 91, she wants to do it again, looking forward to the moment when:  "As soon as that parachute opens, you're just going to float on down."

She continued: "You just can't live day by day. That's the thing about being in a hospital. It's very bored. You're bored," she said during an interview in November during her stay at the Sam Swope Care Center at the Masonic Lodge in Louisville.

Doctors tell her 'no' that she can't skydive again.  They point to her glaucoma and the cancer inside her that's spreading. Virginia ignores them, saying, "I want to jump at 91 and I am going to."

She plans to skydive again this spring.  She wanted to. It's just that sometimes life gets in the way. And plans change.

Just weeks after our interview, Virginia Runge left this Earth. She died with her children by her side. Her daughter Beverly planned her service last week at the Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.

"I love you mom, and I will see you up in heaven."

Runge was cremated in an Elvis jumpsuit.  "It was all white with big rhinestones in the shoulder," Beverly Wade says.

Runge told her children to have laughter in their hearts – not surprising then that her funeral was filled with smiles from stories and the sounds of "Mustang Sally" by Wilson Pickett.  "Ride, Sally, ride," the song says.  "Of all things," Wade says, "my mother was unique. She was an original... And she said that's why she wanted it, because no one else would have it. She wanted to be unique."

Who else would have a mummy at their funeral?  She called the mummy who attended Maurice, she joked that he was her "late, late husband." Perhaps it would be the same woman who traveled the world, married three times, lived in 62 places, and at 70 still dressed up as Elvira.

Wade recalls, "The one thing she says is that 'I can't jitterbug anymore.'  I said, 'Mom, when you get to heaven you can jitterbug down streets of gold."

Elvis might have left the building.

But Virginia Runge scorched the earth with personality.

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