In Memory of
Thomas Z. James

Thomas Z. James, beloved brother, husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather died of natural causes on January 8, 2021.  Tom was born July 2, 1926, and grew up on a farm in Pocahontas, Arkansas, the second of four children born to Tom and Nell James. He graduated valedictorian of his high school class.  He often said he had three careers:  he was a career officer in the Army Corps of Engineers; he was a civil servant for the City of Dallas; and he was a tax preparer for H&R Block.

Tom was a true patriot.  A World War II draftee, he was onboard ship staged for the invasion of Japan when peace was declared.  He graduated from West Point in 1951, and received his master’s degree in civil engineering from Texas A&M in 1957.   He served in Korea, two tours in Viet Nam as well as numerous other postings around the world.  During his military career, Tom traveled over one million miles between assignments.

He retired from the US Army a Lieutenant Colonel in 1971 and took a job with the City of Dallas where he worked in various capacities, including transportation regulation and the Director of Public Utilities.  He appeared as an expert witness in utility regulation around the country and he was proud to be a public servant.  After he retired from his job at the city in 1989, he worked for the State Fair of Texas in the Creative Arts Building and for H&R Block preparing taxes, which was his dream job.  He loved helping people and loved the challenge of taxes.  His third and final retirement was in 2008. 

Tom was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, when he met the love of his life, his wife of over 68 years, Darlene Hornung.  They met on a blind date on New Year's Eve and were married just a few months later in March of 1952.  He often said he spent more time buying a pair of shoes than he did choosing a wife, but he made the right choice with Darlene.  

They moved to Anchorage, Alaska, the first of many moves together, and continued to crisscross the globe while they raised their three children.  Their last move was to Houston in 2008 to be near family.

Tom was an avid storyteller, and the family never tired of listening.  He loved to tell jokes and laughed at his own humor with an infectious laugh.  He was the joke teller for the Gleaners Sunday School Class at Lake Highlands United Methodist Church.  He said he enjoyed retelling his favorite jokes to his senior friends because the jokes were always new again to them.  Many of his jokes and stories are a part of family lore.

Tom is preceded in death by his sister Mary Brown, his brother David James, both of Pocahontas, Arkansas; and by two grandsons Tommy James and Cameron James, both of Houston.  He is survived by his brother Ronald James of Mountain View, Arkansas; his wife Darlene of Houston; daughter Cathy (Dan) Gealy of Kuna, Idaho; son Tom (Nancy) James and son Mark (Suzie) James both of Houston; seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Texas Children's Hospital. (

Charitable Donations may be made to:

Texas Children's Hospital
P.O. Box 300630, Houston, TX 77230. Website Link