Jim McUsic was the oldest of four, born in a hospital in Flint, Michigan, November 24, 1925 to Michael and Lillian McUsic. His family lived on a farm raising chickens and eggs near the town of Holly, Michigan. But times were hard and his folks couldn’t make a living on the farm so they had to give it up and move into the city of Detroit. Jim recalled, “My father went to work in at Budd Wheel Automobile Factory. During that time, I developed a severe sore throat between 2 and 3 years old, which turned out to be streptococcal infection, a very serious disease in those days, it was before antibiotic medicines. They had to opened my windpipe and inserted a tube so I could breathe. The only thing I remember of this illness is lying in a crib with glass walls and writing on the wall with my finger to a child in an adjoining crib.”
“When the Great Depression began in 1930, Dad lost his job, and for reasons unknown to me, we moved to Glen Carbon, Illinois, to the home of my maternal grandfather, August Pizzini. (My mother was Northern Italian & my father was Croatian). While Dad was always looking for work during this time, he was actually unemployed for two full years. He tried to sell McNess products (spices and such) to farm families but it was frustrating because farmers didn’t have money either. My siblings and I didn’t feel the pain of the Depression since we always had food and never lacked housing. But we worried about our parents because we saw the strain on them of the hard times. Dad always wanted to go back to farming and finally found one to rent. We moved there in about 1936, and lived on the farm for three more years. During that time, Dad built a chicken house and raised hens, selling the eggs to grocery stores in nearby towns. He also continued to work in the production line of the automobile factory, commuting by car to work in Detroit. We were fortunate to have a big garden so Mom did a lot of canning. That kept us fed for a long time. We went to a one-room school house called Dates School, where I finished the seventh and eighth grade. It was quite an experience, and we were very fortunate to have a great teacher who could handle 8 grades! In 1939 we stopped farming and moved to a house in East Detroit. That’s when I started at East Detroit High School, graduating in June, 1943 at age 17 as class valedictorian. This made my folks proud since they did not have a high school diploma and I was the first to finish High School in our family. I immediately enrolled in the Engineering College at the University of Detroit, commuting to campus by city bus. The Pearl Harbor attack by the Japanese on December 7, 1943 led America into WWII, I registered for the draft when I became 18 in November, 1943. I was not called until September, 1944 when I began basic infantry training at Camp Robinson, Arkansas. After completing basic training, I was sent back to school in what was called the Army Specialized Training Corps at Virginia Polytech in Blacksburg, Virginia, pursuing the same civil engineering that I had been taking in University of Detroit. If we completed the 9-month course, we would go to Officers Training School, and passing that, would be commissioned an officer in the Army Corps of Engineers. I finished the course, the war ended about the same time, and the program was discontinued so I was transferred to Camp Polk, Louisiana, which became a discharge location for the Army soldiers coming back from combat. I ended my military career as a Supply Sergeant and was discharged at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, in June, 1946.”
Jim continued his college education at the University of Michigan and graduated with a Bachelor of Science with honors in June, 1948. He also received a Master’s degree in geology June, 1949. Shell Oil hired Jim and he began work at Midland, Texas in July, 1949. He was assigned to Shell’s research center in Bellaire, a suburb of Houston, for several months, doing work on water levels in oil fields. Then in 1951 to Shell’s office in Tulsa, OK. That’s when he met Marian Blaicher at a city-wide Catholic singles club called Catholic Activities. “Her good humor and the fact that we enjoyed reading kept me interested in wanting to know her better. We dated for a year and got engaged 3 months before we were married on June 19, 1954, at Madalene Church in Tulsa. Marian was working in advertising doing ads for Brown Duncan and Sears at the time. When our first son was born, she stayed with the children. We had a total of four children, three boys and a girl.”
“Marian and I had traveled with our children throughout the United States when they were younger, so decided it would be enjoyable to travel overseas after I retired from ONG. We enjoyed seeing how other parts of the world lived. Some of the trips were with tour groups, but many we did on our own. Trips on our own was especially fun, we were able to get a closer feel for the people of different countries that way. All of our trips were confined to Western Europe, as the Eastern European countries were still under Russian control, and it was difficult to visit them.”
“Sadly, my wife, Marian, died suddenly on July 4, 2013, after spending a delightful afternoon with our friends Jane and Bob Rausch. I developed a back problem in October, 2013, and decided to move into an assisted living facility. I chose a two-room apartment at University Village and moved in March 10, 2014. I’ve been very pleased with my choice. I enjoy working with the Drama group, we have performed some fun skits and plan to continue. I’m impressed with all the programming. Not only entertaining but enlightening in many respects. We have a very talented group of people here at the Village, where fellow residents contribute their time and talent, too. We are always well informed at University Village about what’s going on which helps us feel an active part of our community.”
Jim is an inspiration to all of us and we are proud to have him in our community.