May 25, 2017

James Allen Etzel, 71, of Rockmere, Cranberry Township, died Thursday afternoon, May 25, 2017, at his home following a two-year battle with AML. His wife and son were beside him holding his hands when he peacefully passed.

Born June 2, 1945, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., he was the son of Harry D. and Dolores Dolby Etzel.

Jim was a 1963 graduate of Oil City High School. He earned a B.S. degree in biology at Grove City College and completed graduate courses at Clarion University.

He loved growing up in Oil City and considered it an honor to return to his hometown to live and work.

He was married June 7, 1969, in Oil City to the former Judith Ann Olmes. Their love affair was filled with humor, loyalty and much joy. They were each other’s best friends.

Jim served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1968 to 1971. He was awarded the Bronze Star with V device for valor while deployed to Vietnam.

He was an exceptional teacher and mentor to hundreds of area young people. His teaching career as a science instructor was done at Oil City and Warren. Jim also taught at VisionQuest and was a tactics instructor for new Marine Corps officers attending The Basic School at Quantico, Va.

In changing careers, he worked as a stock broker with local brokerage firms and as an investment banker with Northwest Pennsylvania Bank and later First Seneca Bank, both of Oil City. After retiring, he enjoyed a part-time job as a backroom stock worker at the Sears store warehouse.

He served on the multi-county Allegheny River Wild and Scenic River Review Committee and as president of the Oil City Boat Club at Rockmere. He formerly belonged to Wanango Country Club, the Oil City Club and the One Hundred Club. An avid golfer, he was a member of several local golf leagues. He was a member of Second Presbyterian Church in Oil City and the Oil City Boat Club.

Jim was known as a gracious and virtuous man who would lend his talents to anyone who asked for assistance. He was quick to hug, to squeeze a hand and to offer support and grace. He said his greatest joys were his son, his marriage and his service in the Marine Corps. Jim taught his son, by example, how to be a loving and loyal spouse and an open and compassionate father. His family was his life and he held his loved ones deep in his heart. He was so thrilled to be included as an honorary member of the Fry and Speerstra families at Rockmere.

Surviving are his wife; his beloved son, Joshua Adam Etzel and his wife Nancy Gabriela Etzel of Millstone Township, New Jersey; his adored granddaughters, Daniela Marie Etzel and Evangeline Virginia Etzel of Millstone Township, New Jersey; his special and dear friends, William Woofter of Kentucky, Patricia Hipkins of Virginia and Robert Fry of Rockmere; sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law James and Erin Olmes of Florida, Susan and John Watson of Florida and Margaret and Daniel Fischer of Montana; and several nieces and nephews.

Preceding him in death were his parents; a sister, Susan Etzel Woofter in 2006; and two brothers-in-law, Samuel D. Olmes in 1975 and Joel C. Olmes in 1973.

The family wishes to express its deep gratitude to those lovely souls who cared for Jim at the Hillman Cancer Center and Shadyside Hospital, both of Pittsburgh, and the UPMC Northwest Cancer Center and the Venango Visiting Nurses Association. Their expertise and compassion were treasured expressions of love and devotion.

The Morrison Funeral Home in Oil City is in charge of arrangements. At Jim’s request, there will be no visitation.

A celebration of life service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday in the Second Presbyterian Church, with a light lunch to follow for family and friends.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials may be made to the VNA Foundation/Hospice, 491 Allegheny Blvd, Franklin; the Venango County Humane Society, P.O. Box 1045, Oil City; the Oil City Library, 2 Central Ave, Oil City; or a charity of one’s choice.

The family also asks that family and friends share their love for Jim by continuing to offer support and compassion to all who need it.
Please visit the Tribute Wall at to share a memory or leave a condolence.