From submitted reports
Jim Marzuola died at peace, surrounded by family and love in his home in McAlester, Oklahoma, on December 7, 2012. He was 81.
Above all Jim was a family man who loved life and people. Driven by optimism and hard work, he had passion for whatever he did — whether it was running his oilfield business in Venezuela, fishing on the Cinaruco River, hunting at deer camp in Oklahoma, or spending Sundays with his family.
Jim was born October 21, 1931, in Haileyville, Oklahoma, to his Italian immigrant parents, Luigi and Elisabetta. Much of his childhood was spent playing outdoors around the homestead and helping his dad run Louie’s place. Like all of his eight siblings, Jim graduated from Haileyville High School. He served proudly in the Korean War, rising to the rank of Staff Sergeant. After returning home, he married Gloris Curliss from next-door Hartshorne in 1956. A year later he graduated from Oklahoma A&M University in Stillwater with a bachelor’s degree in business.
Eager to join the oilfield, Jim took an entry-level job with an equipment supply company in Eunice, New Mexico. In 1960 Jim and his young family transferred to Maracaibo, Venezuela, then eventually Ciudad Ojeda, where he embarked on a remarkable 50-year-long professional journey. His legacy in the Venezuelan oil patch is still palpable today.
Jim first went into business for himself in 1968 doing service work for the major oil companies on the eastern shore of Lake Maracaibo. This activity was expanded to include produce supply, manufacturing and drilling. Grupo Western, as the group of companies became known, was a significant player in the industry. At its operational peak it included over 500 employees in Venezuela and neighboring Colombia.
Jim would become known for his entrepreneurship and for bringing product innovations to the Venezuelan oilfield. Among the many awards he received, his most treasured was the prestigious “Orden Francisco de Miranda” bestowed by the President of Venezuela Carlos Andres Perez in 1989 for contributions to the country’s progress.
Although Jim delved into many different aspects of the industry, his biggest passion was making and perfecting oilfield equipment. One of his companies was the first downhole pump manufacturer in Venezuela to earn API monogram rights, the highest internationally recognized quality control certification. Thousands of his pumps still extract crude from Venezuelan wells today.
Jim’s number one hobby was fishing on the beautiful and wild Cinaruco River in the Venezuelan Llanos. When he wasn’t planning his fishing trips, he was scheming with his brothers and nephews on arrangements for the next deer hunting season in the hills of southeastern Oklahoma.
Even though he was notorious for rushing to make his flights, Jim traveled with ease between Venezuela and the U.S. He was loved by people of all walks and nationalities who came into contact with him, especially his former employees. Language was never a barrier, and it was said Jim never met a stranger.
Jim was a generous man. He never forgot his humble roots and never failed to help those in need. He funded numerous projects throughout his community of Ciudad Ojeda.
Jim was also fun-loving and ornery. He loved parties and dancing, and was known for his prank phone calls and surprise visits to family, impromptu road trips, and test-driving luxury cars to places they didn’t belong.
Jim was married for 56 years to Gloria, with whom he shared his accomplishments, love of adventure and fishing throughout the back roads of his beloved Venezuela. His love for family was infectious. His children came to know all their aunts and uncles and dozens of cousins at famous Marzuola family reunions and weddings throughout his lifetime. Jim and Gloria were delighted to share their adopted country with relatives and friends.
Jim is survived by his wife, Gloria, of McAlester, Oklahoma; their children and spouses, Steven and Donna Marzuola, of Houston, Texas, Susi Marzuola and Peter Waller, of Berkeley, California, Carol Marzuola and James Phillips, of Brockworth, England; and grandchildren, Jason Marzuola, Stephanie Marzuola, Leona Waller and James Waller; siblings and their spouses, Edelle Foley, of Denver, Colorado, Louie and Maxine Marzuola, of Shawnee, Oklahoma, Mary Jane and Jim Gigoux, of Sacramento, California, and Nancy and Bill Bustillos, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and many nephews and nieces who he dearly loved. Surviving in-laws include: Leota Jeffers, Betty Lou Curliss, Greta and J.W. Stephenson, Mary and Buddy Moody and Linda and Kenneth Sherrill.
He was preceded in death by his siblings and their spouses, Edith and Frank Antonelli, Raymond Foley, Michael Slaughter, Amelia and Ed Ward, Christine and Maurice Holland, Eugene and Bebe Marzuola, and nephews, Jim and Ron Antonelli; and in-laws, Leonard and Anna Curliss, Jim and Tiney Curliss, Ed Jeffers and Benny Curliss.
Services for Jim will be held on Friday, December 14, 2012, at 1 p.m. at the Brumley-Mills Funeral Home Chapel in McAlester. Visitation is Thursday, December 13, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the funeral home.
To honor his generosity, contributions may be made in Jim's name to Hospice of McAlester, P.O. Box 1333, McAlester, OK 74502, or to a charity of your choice.