Robert Gilliam “Bob” Porter, died peacefully, on August 24, 2009 after an inspirational battle with cancer. Mr. Porter had been living with his daughter in Durham, NC for four months while in the care of The Duke University Medical Center. He was born March 2, 1929, the only son of the late Mary Irene Weeks and Robert Gilliam Porter, Sr. of Hyattsville, MD. He was married to the late Jean Monroe Porter of Ashburn, VA for 40 years until her untimely death in 1988. He lived most recently in Cocoa, Florida for 18 years.
Bob Porter’s life was as “colorful” as he was. He was a director and producer for NBC in Washington, D. C. for 15 years. During that time, he directed and won an Emmy for the “Night of the Miracle” starring Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme; directed numerous presidential debates; was invited and did ride on the Caroline Kennedy float during President’s Kennedy’s inauguration; and, he was the director who cut to the live shot of “John-John” Kennedy saluting his father’s casket outside of St. Matthews Cathedral in Washington, D.C. While at NBC, when a stand-in was needed, Bozo’s country cousin, “Cousin Cupcake” came to life and for 10 years he delighted children every Saturday morning. He also was one of the original “Ronald McDonald” live characters. Mr. Porter left NBC to join his wife in their own advertising business which evolved into The Mountain Valley Craft Shop and then Mountain Valley Miniatures in Occoquan, VA. He became renowned in the field of miniatures, serving on the Board and was a Fellow Member of The International Guild of Miniature Artisans. He also taught at the Guild’s School in Castine, Maine and wrote numerous “Building with Bob” articles and books.
Mr. Porter was an avid and talented gardener. He could turn the most ordinary of yards into places his grandchildren referred to as their “secret gardens”. Most recently he added his special touch to the gardens at his daughter’s house – a love they shared. And best of all, he had a wonderful sense of humor and a love of life that was catching.
Mr. Porter is survived by 4 of his 5 children, Monnie Porter Riggin of Durham, NC; Jennie Porter and Jona Shortt of Culpeper, VA; Stephen Porter and Holly Mahla of Alexandria, VA; and, Thomas Porter and Patty Sellers of Cocoa, FL; his 3 grandchildren, Christina André Porter of Galax, VA; Carrie and Elizabeth Riggin of Durham, NC; and his cousins Mary Elizabeth and Dick Tiller of Fredericksburg, VA. His daughter, Alexandra Porter Zumwalt, and his son-in-law Aden Davis Riggin, preceded him in death in 2002 and 2008, respectively.
Funeral services will be held at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, August 28, 2009 at St. Lukes Episcopal Church, 1737 Hillandale Road, Durham, NC. Mr. Porter will be laid to rest beside his wife on Saturday, August 29th at 2:00 p.m. at Ebenezer Cemetery in Bloomfield near Round Hill, VA.
In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made in memory of Bob Porter to: The Duke HomeCare and Hospice DHCH Hospice & Bereavement Services, 4321 Medical Park Dr. Durham, NC 27704.
Hall-Wynne Funeral Service, Durham, NC is handling arrangements.