Tax / Estate Planning

James W. Narron Narron, O'Hale & Whittington PA, Smithfield

My father was a country lawyer in Smithfield, but we lived about five miles out of town on the farm I still operate. When I was 10, my birthday present from my father was an alarm clock. After that, he always said that he did the lawyering and I did the farming. Until I left for college, that clock was set for 5 a.m., when I would get up, lay a fire in the kitchen, then feed the hogs and cows, all before the school bus arrived. I learned the value of time management and, probably more importantly, the direct relationship between effort and results.

Vita: Born Jan. 18, 1948, in Washington, D.C.; bachelor’s from UNC Chapel Hill, law degree from Wake Forest University and post-graduate in taxation from New York University; wife and son. Why he chose this field: First, to fill a niche. I could see that many of my best clients were using specialized tax and estate-planning counsel in Raleigh. What he’d be if not a lawyer: Agribusiness in some fashion, or forestry. Possibly career Navy. Memorable case: Audit of a gift-tax return of a minority interest in a closely held real-estate holding company, which owned 55 farms. We were successful in applying a “blockage discount” to the valuation of the farms, most of which were greater than 200 acres, all located in one county, and settled for about 2% of the proposed adjustment. Passions: Raising registered South Devon cattle, operating heavy equipment. Hero: The late J. Marvin Johnson, for a time the state senator from this area and a prominent businessman. He once won an argument on the floor of a national tax conference with then-governor Ronald Reagan. Don’t ask him to: Go to a beauty salon. I go to the same barber who has cut my hair from age 12 (when I finally rebelled and got my father to stop cutting my hair in a kitchen chair).