Community celebrates 93rd birthday of business owner and longtime volunteer

Harry Agner honored for lifetime of community service
Harry Agner's 93rd birthday was celebrated with family, friends, and dignitaries all honoring...
Harry Agner's 93rd birthday was celebrated with family, friends, and dignitaries all honoring Agner for his dedication to helping others.(Submitted photo)
Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 6:32 AM EDT
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ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - A special celebration was held this weekend to mark the 93rd birthday of a man who has served his community in a number of ways for a lot of years.

Harry Agner is known to some as the longtime owner and operator of the popular Chicken & Oyster Shack restaurant (1950-1996) in Spencer. On Friday night more than 60 family, friends, and dignitaries gathered at the Elks Lodge in Salisbury to honor Harry’s legacy with a program called “A Night Full Of Love.”

As part of the celebration, Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander proclaimed Friday, September 15, as Harry Agner Day, and read the following proclamation:

WHEREAS, the City of Salisbury and its elected officials value the tradition of honoring special people, events and milestones; and

WHEREAS, Harry Agner is honored today by his family and friends in celebration of his 93rd birthday; and

WHEREAS, Harry Agner has displayed many talents throughout his life as he served in the Army National Guard from 1950 to 1972 where he ended his military career as a Captain and received the Freedom Team Salute, and later became the owner and operator of the Chicken and Oyster Shack for over 46 years; and

WHEREAS, at the age of 29, Harry Agner joined the Salisbury Elks Lodge and has since served as Exalter Ruler twice, District Deputy to the Grand Lodge, held State Secretary and Veterans Home Service Director positions, and continues to be an active member and Past Exalted Ruler; and

WHEREAS, Harry Agner served as a Mason with the Keller-Memorial Lodge #657, earned the Mason’s Veteran Emblem for 50 years of service, was recognized as a Master Mason, Mason of the Year, Grand Master for Andrew Jackson Lodge, Award for Meritorious Service, and the Scottish Rite, 32nd degree, and as a loyal Shriner member, he received Shriner of the Year in 2003; and

WHEREAS, in 2014, Harry Agner was recognized by the Division of Veteran Affairs for his dedicated support of Veterans for 17 years with over 284 hours of volunteer service; and

WHEREAS, Harry Agner has been an active member of the American Legion Post 342 holding various offices such as Commander and Baseball Team Concessions Manager for 20 years, and in 2016 he joined the American Legion Baseball Hall of Fame; and

WHEREAS, we honor Harry Agner for his passion and commitment to the Salisbury Elks Lodge, Veterans Affairs, American Legion, and Veterans across Rowan County, and for his exemplary leadership, service and dedication to the community,

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Karen K. Alexander, Mayor of the City of Salisbury, North Carolina, on behalf of Salisbury City Council, DO HEREBY PROCLAIM September 15, 2023 as


in Salisbury, and extend best wishes to Harry Agner, on this very special occasion.

This the 15th day of September 2023.

Karen K. Alexander, Mayor

“Thank you for what we’ve known for a long time,” Harry’s son Steve said. “There’s a lot of reasons that people volunteer. Sometimes they reach out to you and say that ‘we need your help,’ and you respond, but often people recognize the need for something and they take the initiative and they make something happen, and I think that’s what we saw a lot in family life. It was never talked about or preached to us, it was lead by example. We saw it done, and we followed in many cases. What we learned is no matter what we did, he was always doing more and continued to do it longer. So I’ll just tell you if you’re going to be a servant volunteer, be a servant leader.”

Harry Agner’s life illustrates the point made by his son. His servant leader role benefitted thousands in the community through the American Legion, the Rowan County American Legion Baseball Team, more than 284 volunteer hours with the Division of Veterans Affairs, various offices through the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks, Habitat for Humanity, the Masons, service through Haven Lutheran Church and Christiana Lutheran Church, the Shriners, and for 22 years of service with the U.S. Army,

During Friday night’s celebration Agner was honored by NC House Representative Harry Warren with a certificate acknowledging Agner’s birthday and for “a life well lived in service to his country, to his community, and to his Lord.”

“I’m just such a lucky, blessed person. God has blessed me all of my life. I couldn’t be any more blessed than I am blessed,” a grateful Agner said. “All of the organizations that I have been a member of, I’m not a card-carrying member. When I join something I want to be part of it. So I think each and everyone of you for being here tonight and making me feel so good, and you surprised the heck out of me!”

Agner was also presented with a Lifetime Service Award by the Salisbury Elks Lodge #699. That award recognized Agner’s service to the community and to veterans, noting Agner’s “diligent work, inspiration and passion towards veterans causes and programs, and for service to our country.”