Oklahomans say goodbye to native son, James Garner
NORMAN — Oklahoma says goodbye to the original maverick and native son, James Garner. Garner was found dead of natural causes at age 86 at home in Los Angeles on Saturday. "Saddened to hear that James Garner, a great actor and great Oklahoman, has passed away. Praying for his family and friends," Governor Mary Fallin tweeted Sunday.
Some gathered Sunday to pay their respects in Garner's his hometown."He's a definite good example of someone from Norman," Randy Dunning said.Dunning was one of the steady flow of people who stopped by James Garner Plaza at Main St. and Jones Ave. Some stopped to take pictures, others left flowers on the statue of Garner as Maverick erected there.Related: Celebrities react to James Garner's death"Its sort of like full circle for me, a James Garner fan, and I happen to be where he was born on the day he died," said Richard Harris, of North Carolina, who is in Norman on business."I grew up on a lot of his movies. I always thought he was great actor," William Stoneking said.Though he's best known for his time on the screen, Garner played many other roles. His time serving overseas, is what brought Dunning to the plaza. "James here is a double Purple Heart recipient, so as a fellow solider, I felt obligated to come out and pay my respects," he said.Garner earned his Purple Hearts after being the first draftee from Oklahoma to the Korean War. He earned his high school diploma while serving in the Army, but before that Garner did spend time at Norman High.While growing up, Garner moved back and forth between Norman and Los Angeles. He settled back in LA after his service. It led to a long career of acting.Garners roles eventually earned him a spot in the Cowboy Hall of Fame."For more than 50 years we've been inducting people in to our Hall of Great Western Performers. James Garner was inducted in 1990," Catherine Page-Creppon, with the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum said. The honor was largely in part to Garner's most famous role-- Maverick."He played a charming, funny, likeable guy and so he will be greatly missed here at the museum," Page-Creppon said.In 1995, Garner was given an honorary doctorate from OU. He was always a Sooner Football fan. His famous intro, "This is Oklahoma Football," is played to introduce the team at home games.Garner's statue at James Garner Plaza was put up in 2006. He and his family took part in the dedication, but Garner never understood the fuss."I don't know what I did to deserve it and I'm sure there's some people that'd say 'why him?' You know? And they'd probably be right," Garner said back then.Now, that tribute will forever serve as an homage to the native son."I was here when they put this up and I never really paid attention to it but it's just something to memorialize him with," Stoneking said.