From his third-floor office suite in downtown Norman, Jim Agar can look out and visualize the Norman business community as it was 55 years ago when he first came to town.

"Our first office was where that parking lot is now," he said, reminiscing about five decades of change he has seen.

He is modest about the role he has played in Norman's business life. Norman Building and Loan. Norman Savings and Loan. King Price Insurance. Agar, Ford, Jarmon and Muldrow Insurance. Agar Enterprises. All are firms to which he has applied his business sense and leadership.

Agar's story began 77 years ago with his birth in Chicago. The family which included a sister and two brothers moved to Beverly Hills when he was 11 years old, after his father died.

"My brother was drafted, and sent to California, so my mother moved us out there," Agar said.

His connection to Norman didn't come until he was a teenager, attending a prep school in New Jersey. A friend, Graham B. Johnson, told him that he had a sister he would like for him to meet at one of the school dances. He spied Jere Johnson before her brother could make introductions, and remembers that "she was the cutest thing I ever saw."

She was attending a school in Washington, D.C., so it was a long distance relationship. The romance continued while he returned to California to attend Stanford. Nearing graduation, a wedding was being planned when her father, Graham Johnson, invited him to "come to Oklahoma and go into the insurance business."

He recalls having two questions. "Where is Oklahoma and what is insurance?" Agar remembers.

He found Oklahoma and the insurance business suited him. So did the finance business.

"I really enjoyed the savings and loan business," he said. "Well, I liked insurance, too."

Norman had just a few thousand people then, and he took part in the development of the city's business community, Agar said. He served on the city council, was active in the Chamber of Commerce and served as president of the Norman Rotary Club.

Agar has had influence where it has meant most to him, like partnering with Jere to raise four children and, in recent years, working in the "bootstrap" program to provide money to help needy high school students make it through the University of Oklahoma. In addition to the $20,000 or so they raise each year for the students, Agar and others serve as mentors in the professional areas that the students were interested in.

No stranger to the OU classroom, he earned a master's degree in human relations and remembers fondly teaching a class in personal finance at OU.

"I enjoyed that more than about anything I have done," he said.

Over the years he developed other business interests, including a partnership with his brother Frank in the oil business. Although he had the chance, he never got into show business with his brother John who starred alongside John Wayne in such films as "Sands of Iwo Jima," and "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon."

John Agar was married to Shirley Temple for several years.

"Our sister Joyce was a classmate of Shirley Temple, and she introduced them," Agar recalled.

He has no regrets for having left sunny California for Oklahoma.

"I wouldn't live there if they gave me the whole state," he declares. "I remember L.A. when there was just one freeway. We rode a streetcar to go to the movies. I am an Okie now."

Agar is in his office every day, and in addition to handling business matters, he mulls over concerns such as the stock market decline, national financial issues and forgetfulness that has come with age. Those down-side issues are tempered with the joy of awaiting the birth of his first great-grandchild.

What would he do different if he got the chance? "I would do better," he said. "No, I wouldn't want to change anything."

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