David Russell Zornes

David Russell Zornes


David Russell Zornes, 76, of Edmond, Oklahoma, passed away unexpectedly on March 17, 2024, after an abrupt onset of pulmonary fibrosis. His sudden loss leaves a void in the hearts of his wife, family and countless whose lives he touched.

David was born on August 28, 1947, in Iola, Kansas above the Ramsey’s Department store on the square. Born to Jessie Lee (Adams) and Russell Roy Zornes, he was the first child of a family of seven. David’s work ethic was clear early in his life, starting his first job at Robinson’s Grocery Store at age 10. He continued to work jobs such as cooking with his mother at L&M Truck Stop, then working at Lucy’s Grocery Store, M&M meat packing plant and finally at the Lehigh Cement plant with his father and future father-in-law. At the same time, David also played the trumpet in the band, was a member of the student council, was active in the youth group at the Iola Assembly of God Church and was a proud member of the Iola Mustang football team until graduation in 1965. Being the first in his family to graduate from college, David went on to earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from The Kansas State Teacher’s College of Emporia followed by a master’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Kansas (KU) in 1976.

David began his career as a teacher, teaching physics, chemistry, and earth science for 5 years in Kansas. After earning his master’s degree in chemical engineering, David and Cindy moved to Bartlesville, Oklahoma for David to take a job with Phillips 66. David had a long career with Phillips 66 and then ConocoPhillips, spanning over 35 years, beginning as a reservoir engineer, and eventually retiring as the Reservoir Engineering Manager of R&D. He had many patents, papers and was proud of his many career accomplishments and friendships. David inspired, supported, and mentored many engineering colleagues as well as family members and was very involved in the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE). He was particularly proud of being inducted into the Chemical Engineering Alumni Hall of Fame at KU in 2015 and his SPE Pioneer Award received in 2010.

David enjoyed his many family vacations and international business trips to places such as China, Norway, and Brazil. He enjoyed the stock market, fishing, visiting family and playing cards. David was also an avid sports fan who could be counted on to have a game or a race on the TV or would attend in person. David loved to send postcards to friends and family throughout the years. He coached softball teams, led Cub Scout troops, played in tennis and golf leagues, and enjoyed many orchestra concerts and other events his children and grandchildren participated in over the past 45 years. In the past 10 years, he enjoyed staying connected on social media with friends and family throughout the country. He was dedicated to his granddaughters and enjoyed taking them to music lessons, school and attending their graduations, concerts, martial arts contests and other events. David was also on the Board of the Edmond Historical Society and was involved in the neighborhood homeowner’s association. David was known in the neighborhood for walking his dogs, Sparky and then Louie while visiting with neighbors along the way.

Throughout his life, David was involved in professional and political organizations. He believed in the power of education, science and he believed in the American dream. David was devoted to his family, believed in hard work, determination, community, and the inherent goodness of people. David was quick to donate to universities, schools, fundraisers, and other charitable organizations. In death, he participated in Life Share Oklahoma, to donate what he could of himself to others. David believed in people and believed in giving everyone a fair chance. Years ago, he established a scholarship at the Allen County Community College to support science and math students.

David is survived by his wife of over 55 years, Cynthia (Fine) Zornes as well as his children, Greta Zornes and Gregory David Zornes and his wife Christina Nicole. David’s legacy lives on in grandchildren Priya June Valipe, Allison Christina Zornes, Genevieve Rose Zornes, and his many nieces, nephews, and extended family. He is also survived by his siblings Donna, Bill, Robert, Janice (Wing), Terry and Thomas Tracy Zornes and sister-in-law Shelley (Fine) and husband Lloyd Guatney.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to the Edmond North High School Orchestra Boosters. https://enoboosters.square.site/product/eno-donation/20 (please note “in Memory of David Zornes”) or to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation at https://www.pulmonaryfibrosis.org/get-involved/ways-to-give/tribute-program.

The Celebration of Life for David will be held on Saturday March 30, 2024, at 10:00am at Matthews Funeral Home in Edmond, OK. For those not able to attend in person, an online stream will be available for viewing. To watch the service CLICK HERE to go to our YouTube page. Click on ‘Videos’, then ‘Live Streams’.

15 thoughts on “David Russell Zornes”

  1. Dr. Michelle Martin

    I was so saddened to hear of David’s passing. DZ, as he always called himself in his Facebook messages to me, was one of the kindest, most supportive, and community minded individuals I have ever known. When I moved to Bartlesville in 2005 I met David through my work with the AAHC board and many other history and arts organizations. As soon as he found out I moved to OK from Kansas we were instant friends and shared our mutual love of the Jayhawks. I can honestly say I never heard David utter a bad word about another person. He was always filled with laughter and had an uplifting presence that was just wonderful. While I was working on my PhD and having a rough time not a day went by that he did not leave me some kind of encouraging, kind, or supportive comment or note on Facebook. He was just one of the finest people that I have had the great fortune to have known. Thank you DZ for everything- for sharing your time, talents, and wonderful giving spirit with the community and making it a better place for all. You will be so terribly missed and watching Jayhawk games will not be the same without your commentary! I send my deepest condolences to all who knew and loved David, may his memory be a blessing to all. Rest in peace and RCJHKU my friend, thank you for everything.

  2. Richard Threlkeld

    Thank you to David’s family for letting me know he was gone. What can I say? David was a very very close friend of my father’s from his first day employed by Phillips when I was ten or so.

    Dad thought extremely highly of David and with good reason as we all know. Dad passed many years ago and I became close to David as my own friend over the intervening years. My heart aches for Cindy and all of you but you have wonderful memories of an amazing, smart, fun and kind man.

    I imagine he and dad are teeing off for a round of golf again in heaven.

    I know I’ll never forget him.

    I had posted this on facebook but I wanted to repeat it here…my sister Linda hopper and her husband mark fondly remember David and send their condolences as well.

  3. eugene spinler

    Dave was my boss for many years in Phillips Production Research. He was a good boss and tried to be fair and objective. I missed him when I retired early and for a couple of years I continued to work for him under contract. Afterwords, we went our separate ways and lost touch. I will always remember him. Cindy I am sorry for your loss.

  4. Betty J Pierson

    To The Family,

    I was shocked to hear the sad news.
    You all are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Betty Hyatt Pierson

  5. Arvid Østhus

    As the ConocoPhillips Norway R&D contact and through my expat stay at the Research Center in B’ville (1998-2001) I was lucky to get to know David. It was a true pleasure both professionally and personally. Only good memories.

  6. Suzanne Kramer Walter

    As a member of the same high school class as David and Cynthia, I remember them both well, as always smiling, friendly, and studious. For awhile there was a little letter contact from Oklahoma. Greetings, condolences, and best wishes to Cynthia from Germany. Walk on, with hope in your heart.

  7. Jim Hedges

    I am very sorry to hear about David’s passing. He was a good friend.
    We first worked together at Phillips Petroleum R&D when enhanced oi recovery was hot. We designed and ran different lab tests with Berea sandstone cores using surfactant solutions and polymers to produce more of the oil out of the rock. However, a drop in the price of oil closed our enhanced oil recovery research. David went into management, and I stayed in the labs.
    Years later, David transferred back into R&D as the boss. I enjoyed David’s management style – mentor and friend. The most fun that I had was working with David on our trips to the University of Kansas where we had joined forces in doing research in the field of polymer / polymer crosslinking and nano technology. Many patents have been granted because of this work. David loved Kansas, and I enjoyed hearing his stories on growing up in there during those road trips to KU.
    Go Jay Hawks. Jim Hedges

  8. Amy Stephens

    David began serving as a board member of the Edmond History Museum in 2021. He is remembered for being very involved, serving on committees, and bringing his granddaughters to events. In fact, we often got tickled at how good his granddaughters were at wheedling money out of him at the gift shop. They always managed to walk away with another stuffed animal!
    David first came to the museum’s attention because he was our “#1 Fan” on Facebook. He always responded with encouragement to every post, and later, to every board email or correspondence. Every week, he responded to my weekly report with a sentence or two–always positive and always wise. Because of David’s career, he was responsible for introducing the museum audience to the granddaughter of Edmond’s oil king, “Ace” Gutowsky,” who then won an Edmond Heritage Award.
    David always brought a great sense of humor to every meeting. At his last board meeting in January, I remember him chuckling as he reviewed my 13-page strategic plan. He said, “Roosevelt had less to go on when he started the WPA.”
    Like everyone, the museum staff and board are reeling from this surprise loss. David will be very missed.

  9. Rico Ramos

    We, the “ARCO-Bunch” are saddened too. I am a part of this A-bunch, who moved to Bartlesville, OK in 2000. I got recruited by “Z”, our moniker for David at work. It was a smart, fruitful move. This allowed me to foster my career, under Z’s tutelage.

    He created a productive, cohesive technology team composed of diverse individuals, by absorbing the Arco-bunch into then-Phillips Petroleum Co. Our team had memorable business trips, and enjoyable family outings at Woolaroc, Sooner Park, Adam’s Golf Park, including Houston Astro’s home games. He promoted a healthy work-family life balance.

    Silently, we pray and extend our condolences to the Zornes Family.
    Collectively, we mourn the passing of our compassionate leader: “Z”.

  10. It was with great sadness I learned today about David’s passing. On behalf of more than 115 students and all employees of Reservoir Physics Research Group at University of Bergen in Norway, having been visitors and research fellows at COP R&D labs in Bartlesville from 1985-2014, we all will remember David Zornes as an excellent researcher, enthusiastic reservoir engineer and a manager with the most admired qualities. David was very fair, had always a wonderful humor and always being in a good mood.
    We all respected and admired him for his personality and being inspirational and trustworthy.
    We will all miss him.
    Rest in Piece.
    Arne Graue

  11. It was with great sadness I learned today about David’s passing. On behalf of more than 115 students and all employees of Reservoir Physics Research Group at University of Bergen in Norway, having been visitors and research fellows at COP R&D labs in Bartlesville from 1985-2014, we all will remember David Zornes as an excellent researcher, enthusiastic reservoir engineer and a manager with the most admired qualities. David was very fair, had always a wonderful humor and always being in a good mood.
    We all respected and admired him for his personality and being inspirational and trustworthy.
    We will all miss him.
    Rest in Peace.
    Arne Graue

  12. Carol J. Swango

    I am so sorry to learn of David’s passing and unfortunately I did not learn of it until I had sent a Get Well card via his Email. My sincere regrets. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him. We had worked together on the Bartlesville Allied Arts and Humanities Council.

  13. Rich Treinen

    Z, as we all called him, will always be remembered fondly. As a member of the ARCO “acquisitions” who were brought up from the Plano Research facility, I first met Z when he walked into my office in Plano. He had a gentle way of cutting to the point quickly and I was moving to Bartlesville. He was a great leader, ready to help all across the board and one we will all remember fondly.

  14. Trond Jensen

    I am so sad to hear of David’s passing. During my years in Phillips and the Ekofisk and Eldfisk operations, I learned a lot from David. Not only was he a wealth of information about waterflooding and core analysis of chalk, but David was a great guy and always fun to be around.

    David, you will be missed. Rest in peace!

  15. Kay Bales

    I filled in at the reception desk at Phillips for several years, went downtown and then back to R & D in the library. David was always so nice and pleasant to be around. I was so shocked and saddened at his passing. Prayers for his family. Kay Bales

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