William E. “Billy” Porter, passed away at home August 30, 2022; husband, father, son, brother, uncle, and friend of many.
“It’s astounding, Time is…fleeting, Madness takes its toll. But Listen Closely.” William Porter was a man that lived by the idea that you “don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” He was fascinated by WWII history, and like Saving Private Ryan he wondered as he approached death – did he live a good life, was he a good man? The answer from all those he was blessed to touch in life is YES! The path of his life and that of his family was not what was considered normal by any means. Bill Porter was not a normal man. He was the janitor in the school filled with Ph.D.’s, he was the Good Will Hunting who loved knowledge, learning, philosophy, history, music, and questioned the status quo.
He followed the idea of “Don’t Dream it, Be it” and that was the philosophy he instilled into his children April and Michael. William Porter understood that “Fulfillment isn’t found over the rainbow—it’s found in the here and now. Today I define success by the fluidity with which I transcend emotional land mines and choose joy and gratitude instead.” -RuPaul. RuPaul, Divine, and other drag queens brought him joy with his daughter and showed that acceptance in difference was fundamental, that joy and gratitude in the small things of life is where the magic lived. He often spent his time putting together small models, working intricate paper crafts, finding the joy in those small creations, something he passed to April. With his son, Michael, he showed the world through a lens of beauty, to be able to see the world as an artist would, all while maintaining a unique sense of humor that often only Bill and Michael seemed to understand. Michael and Bill shared a passion for WWE wrestling while April and her father found joy in movies like Rocky Horror Picture Show. Bill valued creating memories with loved ones, especially during the holidays as he understood the importance of tradition – how playing Santa Clause could bring joy to others, how a meal brought people together, and how values could be passed from one generation to the next. He was strong in his beliefs that God was in everyone and everything, he saw the link in all global religions and if asked would say he practiced “Dudeism.”
Bill’s accident 22 years ago changed his and his families lives forever, but Bill never lost his ability to share love, laughter, and wisdom with all of those in his life. Bill spread a message of optimism and unconditional understanding of others; “I have become my own version of an optimist. If I can’t make it through one door, I’ll go through another door — or I’ll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present.” -Rabindranath Tagore. The present was often dark but Bill always found the humor, and light, always approaching from a perspective of hope and resiliency. Like Don Rickles he felt that “I think if I took therapy, the doctor would quit. He’d just pick up the couch and walk out of the room.”
Bill and his family followed this message: “As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has or ever will have something inside that is unique to all time. It’s our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression.” -Mr. Roger’s. His door was always open especially to children and those in need of a safe haven even when he didn’t have anything more to give than humor and advice. He grew up watching and learning the message of Mr. Rogers and lived by his mission that the number 143 was the goal – I love you. His wife Darlene understood that “Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.” -Mr. Roger’s. Darlene and Bill allowed this philosophy to guide them through 28 beautiful years of marriage, they shared a love that inspired others and was a beacon of hope for many.
William Porter lived a Good Life, he was a good man and “If he could only sense how important he was to the lives of those he met; how important he was to the people he may never even dream of. There is something of himself that he left at every meeting with another person.” But we won’t cry for yesterday, there’s an ordinary world that somehow we have to find as we try to make our way to the ordinary world we will all learn to survive.
Celebration of life will occur in the spring for family and friends. Rather than sending flowers it is asked that to celebrate his love for nature and gardens you plant fall bulbs so that when they bloom he will know you have a way to remember him. Seeds like life have their cycles and will grow when planted with love. Donations suggested in Bill’s memory to support the family. Please follow link for details.