Mickey Starling: Greene Publishing, Inc.
I spent much of my early childhood in Pine Grove Missionary Baptist Church and, frequently, Mr. C.D. Agner would be called upon to close a service in prayer. What stands out in my mind is the booming voice that would flow from Agner's lips as he prayed for the sick. His prayers blessed the congregation as they prepared to leave. I always suspected that Agner was praying on behalf of several area churches because I was certain they could hear him from their locations. He used his sweet Southern drawl to carefully enunciate each word as they billowed from his lungs. If Agner had prayed for you, everyone knew it. Perhaps that is why he was called upon so often to pray.
Over the years, I came into contact with Agner on many occasions, since I went to school with his daughter, Judy Lundell. He was consistently upbeat and encouraging, always offering a bit of sage advice in our brief encounters. Agner was one of only two people who always called me by my last name. Former Madison County Sheriff Joe Peavy was the other person who only referred to me as "Starling." However, Agner did so at a decibel level that would rattle windows.
Seven years ago, I broke my leg and had the unexpected pleasure of sharing rehab time with Agner who was just keeping fit. On my first visit, I was unaware he was in the room until I heard the familiar thundering of my last name when I opened the door. He was his usual jovial self, sharing wisdom, telling me to tighten up and making jokes about everything. It came as no surprise to me that Agner was well suited for leadership.
I had no idea of Agner's military background, which began in 1950, when he was drafted into the U.S. Army, completing basic training at Camp Gordon, Ga. He was then assigned to the 504th M.P. Battalion Company C, at Camp Gordon. Upon completing his service, Agner joined the Army Reserves, where he served in several special reserve units before retiring as a Master Sargent, E-8, in July of 1986. Agner was instrumental in keeping the Madison Reserve unit running for several years. "There were a lot of years that C.D. Agner was responsible for holding the reserve program together in Madison," said Capt. Harvey Waldrep, who served with Agner in the local reserve unit. Agner received a Meritorious Service Medal in 1988 for his outstanding service as a citizen soldier of the U.S. Army Reserve. Other men who served with Agner in the local Reserve unit include Bubba Greene and Jerry McClune. "C.D. was one of the most unique individuals I had the pleasure of knowing. He was my First Sergeant in the Army Reserve and later, we became good neighbors," said McClune.
As is often the case, military background was evident in Agner's approach to civilian life. Leading and encouraging others came naturally to him and those of us who had the pleasure of knowing him are better off because of those traits which he was more than happy to instill in us. America will continue to need men like Agner to serve and protect our nation in the future. As for his delightful voice and charm, I'm not sure anyone can fill those shoes.