James 'Jim' Albert Bruehl, 87, of Norman, completed his circle of life on Wednesday, October 30, 2019. James was tall, sturdy and strong like the elm trees he planted in his front yard, and generous and productive like the pecan trees he planted and tended in his back yard. He practiced with his siblings and instilled in his kids the virtues of hard work, honesty, and above all the love and closeness of family. His devotion to his faith and his family and his spirit of service and giving will live on through them.
James' roots run deep in Norman and Cleveland County. He was descended from German immigrants who first came to the U.S. in the early 1850's, his family settled in Norman soon after the run of 1889. James' father's first cousin Ellen Schader was reportedly the first girl born in the township of Norman (after incorporation of the town). His grandparents, Carl and Emma (Schader) Bruehl, raised their family around the turn of the century on the section of land in east Norman where the Adair rural school was eventually located. Bruehl Lane in that area is named for the family. James' grandparents and their family were some of the founding members of the St. Joseph's Catholic Church parish in Norman, itself one of the first church communities in the town.
James was born at home, on July 17, 1932 to Ima Estelle (Clark-Vaught) and Albert Charles Bruehl on the family farm in east Norman. He was the oldest of eight siblings and attended the Adair rural school and St. Joseph's Catholic High School in Norman, graduating in 1950. His extended family included more than forty aunts and uncles, and over fifty first cousins. James and his family ran a fruit and vegetable stand in the OKC Farmer's Market for many years. His mom and dad later moved the stand to their home property in Norman and sold rose rocks along with the fruits and vegetables. They supplied many local stores and some hospital cafeterias with locally grown produce. In his youth, he would hunt and fish to help feed the family or would trap for furs to earn extra income. During the Great Depression and the war years, James worked the family farm with the rest of his siblings and would later say he was proud that although they were poor, they never went hungry.
After high school, James was also proud to have served in the Army Reserve, and later in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, MO. He was honorably discharged with the rank of Master Sergeant. He had many stories he often told of his fondly remembered years in the military. After his discharge, James went to work for the U.S. Postal Service. He was a letter carrier in Norman for more than 20 years, retiring in 1977.
James married the prettiest girl he could find, Betty Lou Patterson, on May 7, 1955. They were married for 56 years, until her passing in 2011. Together they raised four children and lived their entire married life in Norman. He went with friends or took the family on many a camping trip over the years. James was an avid fisherman and hunter. He always looked forward, with a passion, to deer season in the fall. James had a memory like a steel trap for everything except how many times he had retold the stories of his past he so loved to share with anyone who would listen. He could also play a pretty good game of dominoes and canasta, which he did at the Norman Senior Center most of the weekdays of his retirement. He loved traveling, making trips with his wife, with friends or relatives, or with the Senior Center to Ireland, Canada, Hawaii, and all corners of the country. James was a lifelong, dedicated, and active member and volunteer of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Norman.
James was preceded in passing by his parents; his wife; two brothers, Sherel and Don; and one sister, Anita. He leaves on this side his four children, including daughters, Charlotte Hayes and her husband Greg, Patricia Cejda and her husband Kirk, Ramona Nelson and her husband Roger, and son David, all currently living in Norman; 14 grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; three sisters, Emma, Charlene and Carolyn and their husbands; one brother, Harold and his wife; a special lifelong friend, Nevada Anderson; and many, many other friends and family members.
A Wake Service will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 3, 2019, at Havenbrook Funeral Home in Norman. A Funeral Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, November 4, 2019, at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 211 N. Porter Ave, Norman with family graveside services following at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery in Norman.
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