Corley had worked at the company since 1996
With heavy hearts, H2O Intl. Inc. has announced the loss of their friend and coworker, James Steven Corley. He passed away Monday, Jan. 18, after a rapid decline in health over the last few months. Steve worked at H2O Intl. since 1996 as warehouse manager. With more than 40 years of experience in the industry, he was the go-to guy for technical questions about products and filtration.
Steve spent much of his time in the warehouse, purchasing materials and overseeing manufacturing of H2O's products. He also worked in the office, communicating with customers about any and all product issues and coordinating with the staff to process orders. Steve's vast knowledge of the industry made him very valuable. He had a role in just about every part of the business. Steve was loyal and always eager to work, maintaining a good attitude without any complaints of long hours or weekend work.
And though Steve struggled with his health issues that caused long absences, he was always determined to return. When physical weakness prevented Steve from his regular (and strenuous) tasks, he transitioned to a supportive role, coaching newer employees in sales. He was, quite often, subject to a variety of questions, which never bothered him, because he enjoyed sharing what he knew...and he knew so much.
“He was very knowledgeable, very loyal and was always there when we needed him,” said Guillermo Guzman, President of H2O International, “I’ve known Steve for more than 25 years. He’s been a big part of the success of our company and I’ll always be grateful to have known him. He never complained and was always eager to do what was asked of him. He was very reliable, was always happy to give more and never complained about overtime or extra work. I couldn’t have asked for a better man to run my warehouse all these years.”
In spite of his age and deteriorating health, Steve possessed an excellent memory and a determination to work. He was also light-hearted and funny, seemingly always in a good mood and ready to tell a joke he’d recently heard. In spite of having difficulty breathing, he made sure to tell us his latest joke during the company’s last visit to the hospital. He was a tall, big-hearted presence and he will be greatly missed.
Steve was born in Orlando, Fla., but grew up in Gravette, Ark., where he graduated as valedictorian of his high school class. After studying at the University of Arkansas, he worked a few years in the pipeline industry before transitioning to the water business, selling bottled water in his early 20s. In 1984, Steve started at Bestech, Inc., a water filtration company in Pompano Beach. He’s remembered there as an articulate man with a sharp intellect who often had to explain complex solutions in simple terms. Many of the designs and processes he created there are still in use to this day. “He was a jokester...always with a great sense of humor,” said June Barr, owner of Bestech, “but he was also a family man. He often spoke with pride about his niece and nephew. They meant the world to him.”
Steve maintained a variety of interests and hobbies, about which he regularly spoke. He often mentioned his excursions on the Loxahatchee River, a seven-mile stretch in Jupiter, where he would set out on a canoe to take pictures of wildlife and the beautiful landscapes. “If you take that route on the river,” he said, “you’ll see exactly what the Native Americans saw...it’s virtually unchanged.” Steve fondly remembered his favorite pet he had long ago, a German Shepherd that he trained to fetch a can of beer. He loved to work on his old Pontiac and to read about hot rods and cars in general. Steve was knowledgeable about current events, easily able to recite facts from sports, politics and many other subjects. He cared about people and was easy to talk to because he genuinely took an interest in what was being said, without a trace of ego or selfishness.
Steve also greatly enjoyed visiting his family in Arkansas, especially going to his brother's cabin in the country. He was also very close to his twin niece and nephew. Each Easter, Steve went to great lengths to obtain empty ostrich eggs for them, which he colored and had hidden with regular eggs, just so the kids would be amazed when they found them. He met his nephew's two children for the first time during the recent Christmas break and repeated the ostrich egg surprise for them, keeping the tradition alive for another generation.
Steve is survived by his brother Mark of Fayetteville, Ark.; sister Ellen (Dave) Malm, Jasper, Ark.; niece Kathleen (Tony) Marleneanu, Maumelle, Ark. and nephew David Malm and their two children, Little Rock, Ark.
If you wish to send a card to Steve’s family, here is his sister’s address:
Ellen Corley HCR 70 Box 592 Jasper, AR 72641
In lieu of flowers or gifts, please send a donation to Wishing Well International Foundation. Steve was proud to be a part of the cause for clean water. He also loved dogs. A donation to your local Humane Society would also mean a lot to him. Thank you.