Orville Magnus Running was born on September 19, 1910 in Veblen, South Dakota to Rev. Alfred Running and Sophia Olsen Running. He graduated with a Bachelors Degree from St. Olaf College (Northfield, Minnesota) in 1931 and attended the Luther Theological Seminary, graduating and being ordained in 1934. Running served as pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Tacoma, Washington, and later moved to serve at the Christ Lutheran Church in Chicago, where he renewed his interest in art by attending night classes at the Chicago Art Institute.
In 1946, Running signed a contract with Luther College to "instruct in art and religious education," and for the next thirty years worked as head of the art department helping to build a viable art program at the college. After the faculty senate voted to institute an art major at Luther College in 1957, Running helped expand the faculty and equipment for the department. Along with Dean Schwarz, former Art Department faculty member, Running handcrafted forty-two potter’s wheels using a design by master potter Marguerite Wildenhain. He also helped build easels for painting and tables for drawing. Running oversaw construction of a kiln house and designed a press that allowed the College to offer classes in printmaking.
Along with teaching and leading the Art Department at Luther College, Running managed the Fine Arts Festivals, an annual festival for the arts at the College, which extended from 1957-1966. Eighty-one works in Luther's collection were purchased from these festivals. As an ordained Lutheran minister, Running also taught courses in the Religion Department, delivered chapel talks, and preached in area churches. In 1976 he retired from full-time teaching, but continued to teach printmaking at Luther for the next decade. Running passed away on February 6, 2012, in Decorah, Iowa.
Known primarily for his colorful and highly popular woodcuts, Running was also an accomplished painter and draftsman who created liturgical commissions in wood and metal, fine calligraphy, and musical/theater backdrops. His work was shown in many college and university exhibitions throughout the Midwest and was included in a traveling exhibition of relief prints organized by the Iowa Arts Council in 1970. For several years his prints hung in the reception room of the American Embassy in Oslo, Norway. Generations of students and colleagues have collected his work, distributing it nationally to private collections and to numerous foreign countries.