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James Garner mourned by childhood friends in Norman

NORMAN, Okla. – Roy Hamilton knew James Garner before he hit the big time.

“I don’t remember not knowing him. We went to grade school together, went to junior high and high school together,” said Hamilton.

Hamilton spoke about Garner’s passing in front of the statue immortalizing the actor on Main Street in Norman.

Hamilton was instrumental in getting the statue erected.

“We just kind of wanted to do something for him,” said Hamilton.

Garner lived with Hamilton for about six months in high school.

They never lost touch, even after Garner moved to California and got into show business.

Hamilton brought Garner back to Norman back in 2006 when Garner’s statue was dedicated.

On Sunday, the statue was surrounded by flowers, folks from his hometown honoring him after his death.

“I came out here first thing and I got my pretty pink flowers on his statue to honor him,” said Martha Axton.

Axton wanted to be one of the first to place flowers.

“It’s just to honor him, to celebrate him, he’s part of Norman,” said Axton.

“Really, what you saw is what you got. Jim kind of, I equated him to John Wayne in this respect. John Wayne kind of played himself and his personality came through. Jim did too,” said Hamilton.

Hamilton says Garner never lost touch with his native roots.

Sooner fans recognize his voice as the last one they hear on the video intro at games before the team runs onto the field.

He will be missed around the world, and particularly in Norman, Oklahoma.

“He was a great person and a wonderful human being and we’re really going to miss him,” said Hamilton.