James Garza '05 May 19, 2022 9:58 AM updated: May 19, 2022 10:07 AM
James M. Garza
March 5, 1983 ~ May 12, 2022
James Mark Garza, 39, passed away peacefully on May 12, 2022 at his home in Houston that he shared with his husband, Rory Kerr.
James was born in 1983 to Fred and Lucy Garza in Irving, Texas. He was the fifth of six children – he is survived by two older sisters (Mary and Melissa), two older brothers (Fred and Anthony), and one younger brother (Joey).
As a child and teenager, James was known for his good sense of humor, his love of Nintendo and board games, and for his sharpness in the classroom. He was Valedictorian of his class at Belton High School.
He studied Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University, where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 2005. His professional career started in Longview, Texas, with Eastman Kodak and then continued in Deer Park, Texas, when he joined Lubrizol in 2008. James held a variety of engineering and managerial roles during his 14 years at Lubrizol in Deer Park, and most recently served as Operations Support Manager for the plant. During his tenure, he took on an incredible variety of roles -- for example, he designed warehouses, crafted professional-development plans for other engineers, and advocated for salary alignment across the site. In short, he helped other engineers to succeed. Across every role, James was known as a strategic thinker, a person committed to developing those around him, and the type of co-worker people would turn to on a hard day. There wasn’t a problem he couldn’t solve with a white board, a dry-erase marker, and 30 minutes.
James went by many names – he was husband, son, brother, friend, nephew, cousin, Godfather, colleague, confidant, career advisor, and counselor. He was best known for his caring and thoughtful nature, his fondness of bringing people together through good food and board games, and his zest for living life through travel. He was never short on friends.
When someone met James, they would quickly come to the realization that they had a friend – someone that could make them laugh and someone that they could have a drink with at the end of a hard day. He was the guy at the end of the phone helping his niece with her homework, going with his brother to meet his daughter for the first time, taking a work colleague to Sonic to cheer them up, calling the insurance when his mother’s hospital bills came in, taking the nephews for a weekend so his sister could go on holiday, singing and dancing with his 3-year-old niece and her brother following her cancer chemo treatment, developing spreadsheets to help his sister with a tricky work challenge, organizing “Friendsgiving” to keep in touch with college friends, reaching out to his doctor friend when anyone seemed to be facing a scare, and driving to be with anyone that needed him. This was James – he brought joy and comfort when you needed it most, oftentimes by just being there. “Thoughts & Queso” was one of the phrases he used to show he cared.
A turning point in James’s life came during one of the many traveling adventures that he shared with his brother, Anthony. In 2017, during a trip to Madrid, James first met Rory and developed a friendship that transformed into the love of his life. In 2020, James and Rory were married. Together, they built a happy and loving home that was filled with adventure, friendship, family, and fun. Only Rory could bring James to want to learn how to ride a bike or join a kickball league. Only James could bring Rory to settle in Houston and start a local tourism business. Anyone that met them could see the love they shared for one another, bringing out their best and helping each other.
James’ unexpected passing from this life is felt by many. He will be greatly missed as husband, son, brother, uncle, and friend. May he continue to bring laughter to his family and friends in heaven – by showing his love of fellowship in playing games, sharing stories, and riding bikes. Until we see you again.
James is survived by his husband, Rory Pearse Kerr, of Houston, Texas; his mother Lucy Ann Garza; his siblings Mary Elena Gerschefski, Melissa Anne Thierry, Frederick Michael Garza, Anthony Matthew Garza, and Joey Martin Garza; and his nieces and nephews Timothy Charles Gerschefski, Rosa Leigh Bolaños-Garza, Stephen James Gerschefski, Joshua Frederick Gerschefski, Julia Margaret Thierry, Leonard Anthony Garza, Joseph Henry Thierry, and Lucy Joy Garza. He is predeceased by his father, Frederick William Garza. He is also survived by Rory’s parents, Jean Mary Kerr and Pearse Thomas Kerr; Rory’s sisters, Colleen Helen Kerr and Aine Maureen Fox; and Rory’s nieces, Abigail Patricia Binks, Matilda Jean Binks, Sophie Jean Fox, and Molly Grace Fox.