Daily Visit at My Father’s Feet

My Father
Wally Porter

     Dad, do you know the extent of my love for you?  I really think it was your love for me, that summoned me to sit by your feet, stand by your side and hold your hand.  It was not one moment in the 10 hour to 12 hour days that I wanted to leave your bedside.  

     You were a man of which I could have never imagined to be trapped inside a body that would not move for you, a voice that could not be heard, as you were trapped between flesh, blood and bone.  I cried out for you, to our God, and prayed with the faith that you would become whole.  That you would walk again, talk again, and be the one you had always been.

     Since you could not go to the outside, I brought the outside to you.  I brought the Jazz, that I would dance to as you played your drum with the one hand that would move.  Your one foot would tap to the beat as the syncopation of the music would run through your body and mine.  I danced with such fervor as if we had our last dance, as in “Dance with my father Again.” 

     I took moments of time to sit and talk to you, but you couldn’t talk back.  I had the floor to myself, and all you could do was listen.  One day I said to you, “When you are sitting all alone, what do you think about?”  Not knowing you would respond, I looked at the expression on your face, and the depths of your eyes, you somehow pulled up the strength and said, “Youuuuuuu.” Your Word moved my heart to tears as it was the first word I had heard you speak since the massive stroke you suffered and it was the last one I would ever hear again.

     I visited you daily.  I did not miss a beat.  It was in those times, I was helping mom, as it was really hard on her to handle everything at home and be there for you all the time.  This separation wore on mama dreadfully, and zapped most of her energy.  She had peace of mind knowing that I was there.

     It was a daily ritual for me to cleanse your face, wash your hands and your feet.  It was in those moments of washing your feet, I felt the closest to God and knew I was honoring you for all you’ve done for me.  

Genealogy Corner: Day #3

Today was a slow day for me.  I scanned the ten death certificates I received a few days ago.  I cropped them and saved them to my hard drive.

As I was organizing my room I found the photo of my Paternal Grand Aunt, Hattie Bunn Criner, my grandmother’s younger sister.  I met Hattie for the first time in 1989 at my grandmother’s funeral.  I was really in awe because she looked so much like my grandmother Helen.

Hattie Bunn

I thought I would get some reading in today, but I got a call to go to a Christmas Party, and had only ten minutes to get dressed…so….no reading for me tonight.

Right before I went out the door, One of my dearest friends sent me a Youtube Video she created of the Walter J. Porter Portrait Unveiling. It was spectacular so I thought I would share. Thank You Tracy for your friendship and putting Love into it!!

Unveiling of Dr. Walter J. Porter Portrait-Part#2

     The unveiling of Dr. Walter J. Porter was a very spiritual and symbolic event for me. It opened my ears and my heart to want to continue in my father’s legacy, and continue the Porter Foundation in San Diego to benefit the children of Title I schools in the Southeastern part of the city.  The artist Clarence “Pencilman” Pointer and I unveiled the portraits to the Walter J. Porter Elementary School’s children, parents, teachers, and community members of the San Diego Community.

I did a prior post a few days ago of the event. To read click: Unveiling of Dr. Walter J. Porter Portrait: Part #1.

Pencil Masterpiece Portraits of Dr. Walter Porter

Here are some of the photos that were captured of some of the 5th graders receiving Principal Awards before the unveiling event.  Photos by Mike Norris of San Diego.

Mr. Ruben Ortega’s 5th Grade Class
Receiving Principal Academic Awards

Speaking to the Students about Walter Porter

Dr. Maxine Sherard, me and Philip Liburd

Dr. Shirley Weber and Ms. McMillian (principal)

Dr. Maxine Sherard, me and Vira Williams

Rev. Ikenna Kokayi & Dr. Caroll Waymon

Vira Williams, Dr. Shirley Weber, me & Tracy Allen

Tracy Allen & Dee Sanford

Teacher, Ms. McMillian, Ms. Moore
Pencilman (artist), me & Dr. Weber

Principal Ms. McMillian

Porter Panthers
5th Grade Students

Porter Panthers
Clapping as the Artwork is Unveiled

Smiling as I introduce Artist

Me and Clarence Pointer “Pencilman”

Pencilman speaking to the youth
Encouraging them to use the talents that God gave them

Original Artwork of Dr. Walter J. Porter Unveiled

Pencilman, Ms. McMillian, Dr. Shirley Weber

More of the Porter Panthers

Posing with Artwork

Posing with Artwork
Mike Norris Photographer in this pic

Vira Williams in School Library with Artwork

Dr. Maxine Sherard

Makena Hayes-Gargonnu
Speaking about the mentorship of children

Dr. Willie Blair speaking about his Mentor
Dr. Walter J. Porter

Discussing with attendees of the reception that the Porter Foundation
will continue in the Legacy of Walter Porter.

Unveiling of Dr. Walter J. Porter Portrait-Part#1

     I loved and admired my father Walter J. Porter dearly.  The San Diego community respected and liked “Wally” as well.   Walter Porter was a community activist, and a highly respected educator in the City of San Diego.  It is my love of my father that I continue in my father and mother’s legacy as they both were educators.  Betty Porter was an elementary school teacher for over 30 years in the San Diego Unified School District as my father was a Dean for the San Diego Community College District.

     In 2003, I started a campaign to have a new school built under proposition MM to have my father’s name on it.  We were blessed not only to have one school named after my father, but the former Kennedy Elementary School in San Diego, which was also rebuilt named after my father.  They are both one school but they are called the North and South Campus.

     When the South campus was dedicated and  the ribbon cutting ceremony was held, I donated a painting of my father from the 70’s to be placed in the South Campus office.  The painting of my father was the only one the school had.  Many of the children did not know who Walter Porter was, and they did not know that he had been an advocate for education and for the youth. 
Invitation Flyer to the Unveiling
Dr. Walter J. Porter
Walter Porter with his dummy “Jody”
Ventriloquist in the 50’s & 60’s in Los Angeles

     The Portraits above were revealed on Friday, December 9, 2011. The Porter family and community had two Masterpiece Pencil  Portraits that were made by Clarence “Pencilman” Pointer.
     Clarence captured the spirit of my father through his eyes in the solo photo.The North Campus auditorium was filled with at least 100 students, many parents, and community members to see the unveiling.  The students were receiving awards for their outstanding  academic achievements.

       During the unveiling, Dr. Shirley Weber, an educator at San Diego State University, former board member of the San Diego Unified School District, spoke about the life of Walter Porter.  She spoke to the children letting them know that even though Wally had not been a President of the U.S.,  a Senator, or someone that had a big National position, he did have big dreams, and he advocated so that these students would have a future.  Wally’s spirit can be felt today by all the things Wally cared about.

     The Porter family and community had two Masterpiece Pencil  Portraits that were made by Clarence “Pencilman” Pointer.  Clarence captured the spirit of my father through his eyes in the solo photo.

Holding two of the Portraits that were unveiled

     After the ceremony, a reception followed:  More pictures to come of the unveiling and the children receiving awards.

Walter & Betty Porter Burial at Sea Ceremony by U.S. Navy: Veterans Day Posting

Walter J. Porter
23 years old
Fort Ord Military Base
May 1951
     There are so many individuals who have served our Military of the U.S.A.  They have fought for our freedoms and liberties. They have protected and served us.  Today is Veterans day and there is no way I could do justice in presenting a post that is so worthy of what they have done for us.
     I decided today I would take the time and present my parents burials at Sea Ceremony.  As my father served in the Army, and had requested that upon his death that he (have his ashes) buried/scattered at sea.  My mother had not made any particular wishes. She basically left it up to me. I adored my mother and I knew how much she loved her husband, so I knew the right thing to do was to have a burial at Sea as that would be her final resting place along with my father.
     My parents also loved cruises, so what a way to spend eternity on the wide open seas.

My father Walter Porter was born on September 11, 1929 and he died August 7, 2001.  My mother and I were mourning the death of my father and we had decided to celebrate his life and do something special on his birthday.  Well, when I woke up on 9/11/2001, the plans of doing something special changed.  My father had been dead for a month, and what happened next shocked the World, and especially the United States.  We were all in shock from the terrorist attacks upon the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the great loss of life.  America began to mourn.  I felt, at that moment that I had no right to mourn over my father’s death because our Country was in turmoil, anger, and sadness.  What right did I have to only think about my father and mother and our family?  It was really no time for that; to think only about our own grief.

Our Military went out and did what had to be done.  The first responders answered the call and many lost their lives, like many of our military soldiers.  This was a time in history when Americans UNITED, and even with that there was a lashing out at the wrong people.  The pointing of fingers, of which was not righteous. Life had changed on 9-11!

My mother received a call that my father’s burial at Sea was going to be postponed for another month as it was not the right time for a ceremony when our country was in turmoil.

Then October 24, 2001 arrived and my father was given the Burial at Sea that he had wanted.  My mother Betty was sent a letter from the Department of the Navy after the ceremony.

Letter to Betty Porter, wife of Walter Porter
Description of Ceremony

The ceremony for my father was video taped.  I hope to one day have it copied on DVD.

Burial location of Walter J. Porter
and Betty Mae Porter
Betty Porter was born on November 17, 1926 and died on January 5, 2004.
When my mother was to be given to the Sea, I received the letter below.
Letter to Daughter re: Betty Porter
Description of Ceremony
A couple of photos of Betty Porter’s Burial at Sea Ceremony
Betty Porter’s Ceremony at Sea #1
Betty Porter’s Ceremony at Sea #2

Sometimes I wish I could go to a cemetery and place flowers at my parents headstones.  I was sad that I could not memorialize at the location that they were resting.  The consolation is that my parents are in the wide open sea.  They loved to travel and they loved the idea of going places they have never been.  So now every year, I go to the ocean in San Diego on their birthday’s and drop flowers into the ocean.

Walter & Betty Porter
Vacationing on one of their many cruises together

Walter J. Porter does have two San Diego City Schools named after him and this is a testament of how important education was to him.  So when I think of the fact that he has no headstone…I laugh and say, “Hey Dad, You have two schools in your name!”  What more can you ask for to be remembered?