Although synonymous with locally baked goods and known well for dinner rolls, doughnuts and Gorgie Porgie Pie, those that knew him well remember a legacy of more than just dessert.
“Jim to me wasn’t someone who just talked the talk, he walked the walk. He was a great example of someone with the highest character,” said Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini. “He was just somebody that you wanted to be like — always thoughtful, always caring, always encouraging. On the DDA board, he would always have such great insight for other merchants. He knew what they were going through because he had been there.
“He fought so bravely for such a long time and he will be missed.”
Agan was diagnosed in 2001 with kidney cancer leading to the removal of his right kidney. After several years of at-home dialysis and eventually on-site treatment at a Cartersville dialysis center, he lost the long-fought battle Tuesday.
Cartersville resident and City Councilman Dianne Tate recalled stories Tuesday afternoon of Agan coming to the door of his shop at 141 W. Main St. as she took her regular walks around downtown. One instance she remembered with laughter at the thought of Agan offering her a “health” cookie, a testament Tate said to his ingenuity and creativity in his plight with health concerns.
“He was just a man that everyone loved,” Tate said. “He was a family man with wonderful kids who have made something of their lives.
“He will be remembered as being a long-standing member of the community — not only for having a business, but for always giving back to others.”
Virtually growing up together in downtown businesses, Sam Franklin Jr. remembers Agan best as an advocate for downtown Cartersville. Agan’s grandparents opened the bakery in 1961 on Church Street, not far from the current location opened by Agan in 1982 directly across from the business Franklin’s family built — Sam Franklin’s Home Furnishing Center.
“Even though we knew the Lord would probably call him home, it was a shock. It was a shock to lose him. He’s been downtown ever since he was a young kid,” Franklin Jr. said. “I’m going to miss him. ... Jim loved the downtown probably as much as anyone. He didn’t want his business to be anywhere else but downtown.”
In September 2011, Jim Agan officially made the transition to bring his daughter Abbey Agan onboard as co-owner of Agan’s Bakery. Since Jim’s health struggles began in earnest, Abbey helped run the business and took the reins when her dad was unable.
In a November 2011 interview with The Daily Tribune News, Abbey spoke about the transition to co-owner and the business her father helped build.
"My dad has taught me a lot and I feel like he has really built a strong foundation here. He's taught me everything I know,” Abbey said. “I want to carry on the tradition that my dad has built this foundation on. His hard work and his dedication to his community and his family is amazing. I really look up to him.”
See future issues of The Daily Tribune News for details concerning funeral arrangements.
- Features Editor Marie Nesmith contributed to this article.