Published: August 17, 2021
NAPLES, FLA.- James Pearson Marenakos, a preeminent dealer in American art and a leading expert in marine art for 40 years, died on August 6, 2020, in Naples, Fla., at the age of 89. “Jim” Marenakos was president of Foster Pump Works, and after corporate retirement in 1981, was president and founder of Quester Gallery (Stonington and Greenwich, Conn.) from 1981 to 2008, and president of Watermark Partners from 2008 until his death. He was happily married to his wife, Nancy, for 52 years and together they shared active lives in their homes in Mystic/Stonington, Conn.; Chester, Nova Scotia; and Naples, Fla. Jim was a brilliant man who loved this country. He made lifelong friends wherever he lived and the memory of his wonderful laugh will be cherished. He exhibited amazing courage and forbearance, was endlessly curious, and he loved learning, reading, traveling and music. He was also a passionate sailor and tennis player.
Born October 15, 1931 in Seattle, Wash., to Ernest Pearson and Happy Adelaide Meyer, his mother married Louis Marenakos in 1933 after his father’s passing. He grew up at his parents’ farms in Renton and Issaquah, Wash., with seven older Marenakos siblings, and later, two younger sisters. As a young boy, he began working in the logging industry with his father and brothers who founded the Marenakos Logging Company. He was a lifetime lover of the outdoors, wildlife, fishing and dogs. He graduated from Issaquah High School, and later the University of Washington with a BA from their business school.
He joined the Air Force ROTC while attending the University of Washington, later serving at the beginning of the Korean War with the 73rd Air Force Wing where he worked in the Finance Department. Jim developed a lifelong love of flying and held a pilot rating for both sea and land aircraft. He flew his Aeronca seaplanes and Beechcraft Bonanza nationally for many years.
His first career began with Shell Oil at the US headquarters in New York City. At Shell, he became involved in a pump cost and rating study of all types used by Shell. His keen interests in doing comparative analysis of pumps led him into that industry, eventually becoming president of Foster Pump Works, a Brooklyn, N.Y., manufacturer founded in 1860, which he relocated to Westerly, R.I., in 1969.
After retiring in 1981, Jim turned his love of sailing and the sea, and his passion for marine art, into a fine art business, and founded Quester Gallery with his daughter Ann, specializing in museum-quality Eighteenth, Nineteenth and Twentieth Century marine art. The gallery’s recognition grew nationally, and beyond, through private and museum clientele, by establishing annual fine art exhibitions from coast to coast over a 20-year period.
Jim began sailing with his family on Long Island Sound in 1966, aboard his first sailboat, Jolie Ann. For the next 50 years, he sailed and raced his boats Quester, Magic, Northern Light and Wind Song. He won many memorable regattas racing with sons, Mark and Steven, including First overall in the Howard Fuller overnight race in 1975, and First overall in the Block Island Sound Race in 1979. While living in Chester, Nova Scotia, from 1999 to 2018, he loved taking his family and friends sailing and teaching his grandchildren, Nathaniel and Christopher, about wildlife, boating and the sea while exploring the coastline and islands together in his AB tender Skimmer.
James Marenakos was very active in his support of the National Maritime Historical Society and he was a past Member of their Board of Directors. He was a member of many clubs and organizations, including the Wadawanuck Club, Off Soundings Club and Wilderness Country Club, National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society and Mystic Seaport Museum. Former memberships include Watch Hill Yacht Club, Chester Yacht Club, Chester Golf Club, Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron, Naples Yacht Club, New York Athletic Club and Union League Club, New York City. He supported the Chorus of Westerly; Chester Playhouse; Christ Church, Westerly, RI; Chester United Baptist Church; Covenant Church Naples; and the Westerly Hospital in memory of their son, John.
He is survived by his beloved wife, Nancy Adams Marenakos, his children, Debra, Mark, Steven and Ann; 12 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his former wives, Jean Burt Griffiths and Shirley Moore Marenakos. He was predeceased by his nine siblings and his children, Rene and John. He is deeply missed by his wife and family.
A family graveside service was held at Stonington Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please plant a tree in remembrance of Jim’s tenacity and enthusiasm for life.
-Submitted by the family
Doug Taylor, Illustrator & Picker, 76
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Marilynn Johnson, Curator & Educator, 88
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