Over the years, many people have played instrumental roles in helping to preserve and protect various aspects of island life. In 2000, the heirs of Charles and Robbie Runyon’s estate decided to honor their parents by deeding a 15-foot wide access way to the Pamlico Sound from the south side of the island (Down Point) to OPS. Charles and Robbie were committed to preserving the unique lifestyle and environment we are accustomed to here on Ocracoke. We keep it passable and available as one of the few remaining publicly accessible paths to the Sound. We have a small sign identifying the path as Robbie’s Way, and a newly installed sign closer to the road that identifies it as public sound access. If you use it, please honor their memory too by help us by keeping it clean and respecting the neighbors. Thanks!
Excerpts from a letter written by Charles Meeker to Anne Marshall Runyon (Charles & Robbie Runyon’s daughter) in regards to “Robbie’s Way”
Your parents acquired a large lot on Pamlico Sound in the mid-1950s from Ruth Bragg Gaskins. In 1960, your parents agreed to exchange this lot for a 50-foot wide lot on Silver Lake. Your parents were interested in retaining access to Pamlico Sound, so it was agreed that a 15-foot wide access way would be granted to them.
In 1976, your father became aware that Warren Paley had not only acquired land on either side of the access way (including the restricted lot deeded to the motel owner), but Mr. Paley had a deed recorded in his name which purported to the transfer of the access way to him as well. After reviewing his files, your father determined that while he had received the access way deed, it had never been formally recorded with the Hyde County Registry of Deeds.
After recording the deed to the access way in 1976, your father asked that we make demand on Mr. Paley to forgo any claim that he might have to the access way. When no response was received, we filed suit on behalf of your parents against Mr. Paley. Instead of answering the lawsuit, Mr. Paley conceded that he had been in error and, by way of settlement, signed a quitclaim deed to your parents as to any interest that he claimed in the access way. This lawsuit and the subsequent quitclaim deed firmly established your parents’ ownership of the access way.
Subsequently, in 1989 Mr. Paley entered into a partnership with the Midgett brothers of Hatteras and planned to develop 20 condominiums on the land north and south of the access way (i.e., 16 units to the south and four units to the north). Since most of the southern land was restricted by Mrs. Gaskins’ covenants, your parents and Noah Paley, a Paley-Midgett representative, discussed whether the impending dispute as to the legality of the condominium development could be resolved. The proposal by Noah Paley was that the access way be moved to the north so that a larger block of condominiums could be built to the south. Needless to say, your mother was not amused by that suggestion and stated that she was satisfied with the access way exactly where it was.
Throughout this period, your parents regularly used the access way to go to Pamlico Sound and to keep an eye on the Paley-Midgetts’ activities. From time to time, your father would trim branches so that the path was passable. Your father, affectionately and proudly, called the sound access Robbie’s Way.
Excerpts from “The Runyons of Ocracoke are committed to their adopted island home” by Margot Rochester printed in The Island Breeze in September of 1994.
In 1952, Charles Runyon traveled on Frazier Peele’s four-car ferry from Hatteras Island and drove the 12-mile stretch of unpaved sand, finally reaching the village of Ocracoke and Miss Bessie Howard’s boarding house.
He and a friend, Len Meeker, whose family eventually became the Runyons’ neighbors, were looking “at every possible place south of Washington” for a family vacation spot. “When I reached Ocracoke,” he recalled with a smile, “I stopped.”
The Runyons continue their commitment to making the world, and especially Ocracoke, a better place. It seems no performance, pot luck supper, or meeting about a local issue goes unattended by the Runyons.
”Charles and Robbie are two of the best people who have moved here,” [James Barrie] Gaskill said. “They care more about the quality of life on Ocracoke than anyone I know. They have held on the valuable property on the harbor and sound to assure people, especially the locals, of access to the water. I don’t know many people who would do that.”
[Ann Ehringhaus said,] “Knowing Charles is an inspiration….His life exhibits his on-going belief and commitment to preserving the unique natural environment and community of Ocracoke. I feel honored to know both Charles and Robbie.”
“Barbara Spencer, a local artist, offered an example of just how inspiring the Runyons are. She said, “I get so sick and tired of cleaning up after other people and then I think of Robbie and Charles picking up litter on the beach. If they can do it, so can I.”
|Charles and Robbie Runyon with Sierra Gillespie, 6 mo.
and Rebecca Skinner 21yrs
|Charles and Robbie Runyon 1984||Charles and Robbie Runyon 1992||Charles and Robbie Runyon 1996|
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