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Former Heer's executive Bent Agee dies

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Last edited 2:12 p.m., Dec. 14, 2010

Springfieldian, businessman and merchant Bent Agee, who spent 40 years at Heer's Department Store and retired as senior vice president, died Dec. 9 at St. John's. He was 89.

Agee started his career in 1945 after returning from overseas, where he served in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II.

He started small at the then-booming Heer's Deparment Store as a salesman of men's clothing earning about $75 a week. He then enrolled at Draughon’s Business College but returned to work at the store to receive on-the-job training, according to Springfield Business Journal coverage.

He worked in the store's receiving room matching invoices and orders, eventually working his way to the upper echelon of the company, retiring in 1986 as senior vice president and controller of operations.

Agee held many jobs during his rise in the department store, including store operations manager and liaison between the store's New York office, its architect and its contractor when the store was remodeled in 1949, the first redevelopment after the building was was constructed in 1914.

Agee also served as president of the Springfield Metro Club and was instrumental in securing Dickerson Park Zoo's first elephant, "Ol C.C.", raising $6,500 to purchase the 1-ton animal in 1954.

Agee was born July 20, 1921, during the Great Depression, according to an obituary provided by his son, David Agee, and published in the Springfield News-Leader.

He is survived by his sons David and John; his sister Pauline Letterman; and his grandchildren Ben, Jeff, John David and Virginia. He was proceeded in death by his parents, Claude and Ethel Agee; six brothers and sisters; and his wife, Virginia Elaine Nordyke, who died in 1970 after battling cancer, according to the obituary.

Visitation will be held tonight from 6:30-8 p.m. at Gorman-Scharpf Brentwood Chapel in Springfield. Funeral services also will be held at the chapel tomorrow at 10 a.m., with his burial immediately following at Eastlawn Cemetery.

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