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Doug L.
Republican CA 1

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  • Commemorating the Life of Lawrence Agee

    by Representative Doug LaMalfa

    Posted on 2016-01-07

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    LaMALFA. Mr. Speaker, I rise in sadness to commemorate the life of Mr. Lawrence Agee, a man I call a friend.

    He was a long-time resident of McArthur, California, in eastern Shasta County. Born in 1937, he operated an institution in the area for 55 years, known as the Highway Garage, which was the smallest, I think, Chevrolet dealership, maybe, in the West, and it was the only one for about an 80-mile radius for a lot of years until the reorganization of General Motors happened and they took the franchise away.

    On that lot, he might have in his inventory seven, eight, nine new cars--pickups, mostly, for the farmers and ranchers in the area. It was really an institution to the people of the area. When that dealership was pulled, they continued on, he and his family, in providing service and towing and all of the things that you would need in that area.

    I got to know Lawrence when I was a new candidate in 2002, striking out from where I lived--about 2\1/2\ hours away--to go out and meet people in the vast northern California district I have represented over the years. I stopped in one day on Highway 299, in eastern Redding, right in McArthur there, and said hi to this tall, lanky fellow here, who just felt like the heart of America right there. I struck up a conversation and had a great old time.

    For many, many years, he did operate a Chevrolet dealership, but I drove up in my Ford. So that started a little banter going back and forth, especially if you are a partisan NASCAR fan or an automobile brand fan, which kind of tends to go with that there.

    One of the lines I remember him teasing me about was, ``Well, you know, it is a nice car there, but here we sell the best and service the rest.'' I guess he probably figured he was going to have to service my car a lot if I were in the neighborhood. Yet, the teasing and the banter was just one of the great parts of our friendship and relationship.

    Soon after that, every time I would have a chance, I would go through there, whether it was going up to the Inter-Mountain Fair for a day or two right there in town. He was a big part of that institution as well and would hang out with the people there.

    There is a parade at that fair each year. After I got to know him and Eleanor and his family a little bit, he even let me use his convertible to drive in the parade there. It was a neat, old Chevy SSR.

    I think that was his subtle way to get me into a Chevrolet at least once a year. The funny thing is that he didn't drive it that much; so, people around there would only see it once a year. And they got to thinking it was my car or something; so, it was a funny deal.

    That just shows his generosity and his trust. I know he was well loved in the whole community because, during fair time, he was a big, big supporter and sponsor of the fair. But I don't know if he got to go to it very often because he was always helping people with lock-outs and dead batteries or was making a tow run nearby or whatever. He was just helping keep that town together.

    For many of us who are in and around Shasta County there, I know he will be greatly missed. His wife, Eleanor, is a gem as well. My heart goes out to her and to the whole family there because there is really a lot happening around Highway Garage in McArthur.

    Again, at fair time, you would see a lot of destruction derby cars lined up at that place. His son, David, was always working on those, as were other family members. I think that is the place if you need a destruction derby car. Go see them, and they might be able to give you the best technology on that as well.

    In his service, he was nationally recognized as one of the best serving dealers in that dealership they had, up until 2009, when he moved on to service only and was no longer selling cars.

    {time} 1030 You could see it on the awards in the shop building. This big wooden building there just takes you right back to Americana from 80 years ago. I think the dealership was established in 1924. His family took over in 1949. With the passing of his father in 1959, Lawrence took over as the youngest dealer, again, in the West of a Chevrolet dealership.

    He was a volunteer with the McArthur Fire Department. He was a longtime leader of the Cloverleaf 4-H for over two decades. He was a member of the Fort Crook Masonic Lodge, citizen of the year at least twice, blue ribbon winner, and a longtime supporter of the Inter- Mountain Fair in many capacities. Of course, he leaves behind a legacy of what small-town America really is about.

    The impact he had on his community was felt not only there, but far, far away. For those people that were helped by him in the middle of the night--there maybe would be a rock in the road or something like that and if somebody would run over that, he would go out and bail them out. Indeed, one of the times when I was up for the fair and leaving town, there he was, coming up the grade in his big, yellow tow truck. That is Lawrence right there.

    A rewarding part of this job is getting to know people like him, and you hate it when you have to lose people like that, that are pillars in the community. Doggone it, he leaves a great legacy, and I am proud to have known him.

    God bless his family.


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