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From the blog

A Tribute to James Steven Corley


With heavy hearts we must announce that we lost our friend and coworker, James Steven Corley, known to most of us simply as Steve. He passed away Monday, January 18 after a rapid decline in health over the last few months. Steve worked here at H2O International for 19 years as warehouse manager. With more than 40 years of experience in the industry, Steve was the go-to guy for technical questions about products and filtration. In spite of his age and his 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 always ready to tell a joke he’d recently heard. Even when we saw him last week at the hospital…in spite of having difficulty breathing, he made sure to tell us his latest joke before we left. He was a tall, big-hearted presence around here and he will be greatly missed.

Steve was born in Orlando, but grew up in Gravette, Arkansas, where he graduated as the valedictorian of his high school class. After studying at the University of Arkansas, Steve worked a few years in the pipeline industry before transitioning to the water business…selling bottled water in his early 20’s. In 1984, he started at Bestech Incorporated, 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.”

Christmas 2015, playing with Benjamin (right) and Beckett
Christmas 2015, playing with Benjamin & Beckett

All of Steve’s family lives in Arkansas. His brother Mark lives in Fayetteville. Steve enjoyed going out to Mark’s cabin in the country, surrounded by nature. His sister Ellen and her husband Dave Malm live in Jasper. Steve was very close to their twin children, Kathleen and Daniel. He went to great lengths to obtain empty ostrich eggs for them. He colored the eggs and had them hidden along with the regular Easter eggs…just so the kids would be amazed when they found them. Kathleen is now grown up and married to Tony Marleneanu and they live in Maumelle. Daniel and his wife Lauren live in Little Rock. They now have two young children, Benjamin and Beckett. Steve was able to see and visit them for the first time during the recent Christmas break. He repeated the ostrich egg surprise for them also.

941035_1076487695736579_495823931791454118_nSteve was also a part of our family here at H2O where he worked since 1996. He spent much of his time in the warehouse, purchasing materials and overseeing the manufacturing of our products. But he also worked in the office, communicating with customers about any and all product issues and coordinating with the staff to process orders. His deep knowledge of the industry made him very valuable to our company. He had a role in just about every part of the business. He was also loyal and eager to work, always maintaining a good attitude without any complaints of long hours or working on Saturdays when needed.   

Steve with Kathleen and Daniel during their 1998 trip to Florida.
Steve with Kathleen and Daniel during their 1998 trip to Florida.

Steve maintained a variety of interests and hobbies which he regularly talked about. He often mentioned his excursions on the Loxahatchee River, a seven-mile stretch in Jupiter, Florida 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.” He spoke often about his dog from 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. He was knowledgeable about current events, easily able to recite facts from sports, politics and many other subjects. He was easy to talk to because he genuinely took an interest in what you had to say. Without a trace of ego or selfishness, he cared about people. 

1935809_1076026215782727_3345828393814290339_nHe struggled in the last few years with his health, missing long periods of work. In spite of the setbacks, he was always determined to come back to work. This was the place where he belonged. As his physical weakness prevented him from carrying out the strenuous tasks that he used to perform, he transitioned in the company to more of a supportive role, coaching newer employees in sales. We would often go into his office to ask him several questions. It never bothered him. 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 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.”

You were taken from us much too early, Steve. You were a caring brother and uncle, a hard worker, a supportive colleague and a good man. We’re deeply going to miss you. Goodbye, good friend. Rest in peace.


If you knew Steve, you can leave a comment down below. 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.


  1. I am sorry for the loss of Steve Corley. Steve was a great person who serve you and your organization well. We will miss him here at East Coast. Plastics. I will keep Steve and you all in my prayers.

  2. With heartfelt condolences to Steve’s family, friends and co-workers. Over the years since becoming a retail distributor of H2O International products, there were numerous occasions when I would need to discuss an odd water treatment requirement or system configuration. Steve Corley was always available, or made himself available, eager to help and sharp as a tack to come up with the right answers or best fixes. Though we never got to meet each other in the flesh, I felt like we knew each other by virtue of our numerous phone conversations. It was always a pleasure to work with Steve to make a problem or puzzle come out right. He left some mighty big shoes to fill at H2O International.

  3. I came to the warehouse yesterday, Friday the 22nd, to see Steve, and I was with a sad and heavy heart when I first heard of what happened, from his good friend and colleague Elton. Steve was the man, dedicated hard worker, funny, and had a humble heart. We’ll all miss him. May God comfort everyone’s heart during this sad time, and may God bring peace and comfort to his dear sister and siblings.


  4. It has been a week of remembrance. We were sadden about the lost of Steve. I will remember him as a good will ambassador for H2O as he always had the answer l needed and he was there to help me with my shipments over the many, many years l worked with him. He was a gentle man with a great sense of humor. He will be missed dearly and may he rest in peace.

  5. So glad Steve was able to generously share some of his great knowledge with co-employees in recent years. Drat, he didn’t even get to enjoy any retirement ! I knew him when he escorted his sister Ellen around the area and down to the Keys a few years ago. I didn’t know he was a jokester until now. It is obvious how much he will be missed by family and friends and what a big mark he left on others.

  6. We are so sorry to hear the sad news. Steve was a wonderful individual and a dear friend more than just a client. I will miss meeting him at the trade shows and talking to him when he places orders. Please accept or deepest sympathies and please extend our condolences to his family.

  7. Sorry for you loss. I will miss talking to Steve he taught me many things about water, he loved his niece and nephew dearly he always talked about them with so much love. I am in shock. I am truly going to miss him dearly. My prayers are with you all.

  8. I’m so sorry for your loss. I had the pleasure of working with him for many years, when I was still doing sales. He was always one of my favorite customers. My prayers are with his family and his work family.

  9. Steve you have no idea how much you are missed. You were a gentle soul always willing to help and educate others. You always took care of everything you were asked to do without a complaint. The office and the warehouse seem empty without you and now I have no one to harass about smoking. Oh how I wished you had been able to quit. How I wish I had a chance to take care of you as we had discussed. I think we both knew it was time you cut back a little so you can take time for yourself. It was hard to have that conversation before you left for Christmas holiday but I was looking forward to putting a plan together that would allow you to still work and enjoy life more and without worries. I just knew you couldn’t just stop all together. Although at times we had our differences you always watched my back and did everything in the best interest of H2O. You always put the company and others before yourself and that my friend will never be forgotten by me or anyone else that had a chance to know you. You never forgot to send your greetings to my parents, nephews and nieces you met at various times during your 19 year run at H2O. They always remembered you and are obviously very saddened by your sudden departure. As we discussed there are a lot of changes and improvements coming our way and I am totally committed to making this company a bigger and better company for our employees and our clients. Without you it will be harder but it will be done in your honor. I miss you now and will always miss you.

  10. Steve, you will always be deeply missed and retold as a genius of jokester and generosity throughout the cause for clean water, goodbye, good friend, and rest in peace.

  11. Steve you are already missed! I was in shock when I heard the news and still am. We were having our Christmas party on December 18 and he told me he wouldn’t be able to attend since he was going to visit his family in Arkansas for Christmas and that was the last time I saw him. I have known Steve for almost 20 years, since Guillermo hired him at H2O. He has been a stalwart presence there. He was Guillermo’s right hand man, so loyal to Guillermo and the company. In 2003, when I moved my company into some available office space at H2O, he was always eager to help us out however he could no matter how small or big the request. He also loved dogs and would take the time to come visit them, as they would come to the office with me. He was also knowledgeable about animals and many times I would ask his advise if one of my dogs was sick. He had a real soft spot for my Sabie. When I got her as a pup, about three years ago, he would make it a point to come visit her and teach her a trick – particularly to roll over which she finally mastered with Steve’s patience and persistence. He would call her ‘crazy dog’ and she would be ready for her lesson!
    Goodbye Steve, we will all miss you. RIP

  12. Goodbye, Steve. I really wish we could have seen you at Christmas. Thanks for the ostrich eggs and lottery tickets! We were always excited when you came to town. Your spirit was bigger than your height. God bless and enjoy the waters above. Wishing peace for Mark, Ellen, family and friends.

  13. I would like to extend my sincere condolences to Steve’s family and all of his coworkers at H2O. I am sure that this is a difficult time for all of you but, please remember Steve as the person God gave you the privilege to having in your lives. Steve I want you to know that I always thought of you as a friend. You were always there when I or one of our customers was in need of advise. I will miss the jokes you used to tell me at the end of each of our conversations. You will always be remembered as one of the best human beings I have ever had the privilege knowing and you will always be missed. May you rest in peace.

  14. Oh my, I am so sorry to hear this news. I know he has not been well, but this seems very sudden to me. I am sorry for your loss, please pass along my condolences to Guillermo and Steve’s family.

  15. Although I only interacted with Steve the last year of his life, I too was saddened to hear of his passing away. I saw him as a gentle soul inside a rough exterior. I also got a sense that you and your staff were really fond of him. I join Jenny in extending to you and your staff my condolences. If there is anything we can do from our end to help perpetuate his memory we would only be glad to help.

  16. I was shocked and saddened to hear about Steve. He was such an institution there and I did enjoy hearing from him over the years. In fact, I had the pleasure of meeting him at a couple of the shows as well. He will be sorely missed and my condolences to all that knew him.

  17. My friendship with Steve began in 1975 when we were employed by Crystal Klear Water in Delray Bch., FL. Steve adored children and was soon regarded as a beloved family friend. During this period I got to know Steve’s amazing dog, Pusher, who would not only open the refrigerator and fetch a beer,but would also take your empty can and put it in the trash can. One day while visiting with Pusher, he had the kids sit in a wagon. He then tied a piece of rope to the handle and told Pusher to pick it up and pull, thus delighting them with a dog-pulled wagon ride. After I moved from Pompano Bch. to Stuart in 1998,we saw each other infrequently but would chat on the phone almost every Sunday. Until about three years ago we would meet annually and canoe the pristine section of the Loxahatchee River into Johnathan Dickenson State Park. Honest, intelligent, loyal,patient,caring and understanding, Steve was always delighted to share his vast knowledge and wisdom if you had a problem or question. One could not possibly ask for a better friend. Good bye old pal. You will be dearly missed and fondly remembered.

    1. We would sincerely like to thank all of you for comments about our brother, Steve. He was one of a kind all of his life and will so be missed by his family. We were fortunate that he came back to Arkansas for a visit at Christmas time. Despite his ill health, we had a good visit and he got to meet his grand-nephews for the first time. Loving children as he did, it was a highlight for him. Thank you H2O International and business acquaintances for being his Florida family. He loved his work; it was his life. A special thanks to Joseph Gonzales for putting this beautiful tribute together and Mr. Guzman for his special care and concern.

  18. Our deepest condolences to the family. I had the pleasure of working with Steve throughout the last 13 years and came to know him personally at the WQA shows. Steve always had a smile and pleasant to talk to. Our prayers are with the family.

  19. I’m sorry for your loss, Steve was a great guy, fun to work with, always had a smile on his face and always, always had a good joke to tell you. I’ have had the pleasure to know Steve the past 17-years, he will be deeply missed. My condolences to all Steve’s family members and his partners at H2O

  20. This is terribly sad news to read about. Steve was always very obliging and professional, and although I never had the pleasure of meeting him, he was certainly someone who came across as a very genuine person. My condolences to his family and the people at H2O who must be missing him.

  21. I graduated from high school with Steve in Gravette, Arkansas.

    He was always the part of any and all groups in high school.

    I remember one weekend several of us that were into cars went to the drag races up at the MoKan Raceway. Steve took his Dad’s, I believe it was a 64, Pontiac Bonneville and made a few runs down the strip.

    My condolences to Mark and Ellen.

  22. I also went to school with Steve in Gravette, and was a neighbor growing up. I have many stories I could tell of the two of us running around Gravette and Noel on weekends that might curl your hair. He will truly be missed I am for sure.

  23. I graduated with Steve in Gravette. He was a very smart guy, loved to debate with the teachers. I think everyone loved Steve. Never heard a bad word against him. So sorry Ellen and Mark.

  24. I will keep Steve’s family and friends in my prayers as they continue to cope with his passing. I only spoke to Steve a couple of times, but he was always very kind and easy to talk to. I wish I had gotten to know him better, being that I’m in Arkansas we definitely could have shared some stories about our experiences in the Natural State. Best wishes to all.

  25. Steve- thank you for always taking the time to meet and discuss our industry. You vast knowledge will surely be missed my friend.


    Mike Parker

  26. So sad to hear of Steve’s passing. He has been a “GO TO GUY” since I started in the filtration business in 1995. He was always willing to listen to all field issues and quick to offer an intelligent solution. He was truly a Master of his trade. My prayers go out to his family. God Bless.

  27. I am so very deeply saddened by this news, I will miss my friend Steve and think of him and his wonderful humor for years to come. I had the pleasure to have worked with Steve for over 30 years and he was truly a great guy with a smile every time I saw his face. I can see him in his little boat in heaven right now.

  28. I just read in WC&P about the passing of Steve in January. I did not know. I wanted to pass on my condolences to you and his family. I had many interesting conversations with him over the years :). A really good guy and fun to work with and talk with during the shows. He will be missed.

  29. I knew Steve while I worked with Flowmatic Company, who Steve would purchase water filtration products from. Always a good guy to talk to. Thanks for the laughs, Steve.

  30. I knew Steve for years delivering and picking up shipments from h2o industries we had a lot of laughs together, sweetheart of a man, always thinking about him especially when passing or stopping at the warehouse RIP Steve

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