Stephen Porter, my dear friend of many years and my writing partner for much of that time, has succumbed to a long and debilitating illness. Steve was an ever-present partner in producing these essays long after he was no longer able to contribute to these pages. The question—What would Steve think? or What would Steve write? has always been part of the thought process that accompanied each of the 425 consecutive essays that have been penned since Steve and I began writing these weekly essays in 2009. In fact, embarking on this editorial project was Steve’s idea. I had penned an opinion piece regarding the first “Troubled Asset Relief Program” (TARP) in July of 2009 and passed it by Steve for critical review. He took an immediate interest in producing political commentary and floated the idea that we write a regular weekly column. Now, approximately one million words of commentary later, the on-line column we began writing a decade ago continues unabated, save for brief hiatuses when I’m completing a book (writing historical fiction is one of the great joys of my life).
During the early months and years that Steve was no longer able to participate in the writing, I made it a point to discuss whatever I planned to write with him.
“Any thoughts?” I would ask.
“Yeah, stop splitting your infinitives,” he would invariably reply.
Washington, DC is still celebrating the Nationals hard-fought, world championship World Series victory. In a sense, the city was, and is, also celebrating Steve Porter. Bringing a Nats franchise back to Washington was a battle that Steve Porter fought almost singlehandedly. And while Steve’s group did not win the franchise, he made the case, lobbied Major League Baseball, and fought for a major league team in Washington…and won. He loved the Nationals and greatly admired the skill with which the Lerner family built the Nationals franchise, the stadium, and, most of all, he loved the remarkable team that his efforts helped bring to the nation’s capital.
Steve Porter was a truly great lawyer. He began practicing law over a half-century ago and was widely admired by his peers. He was, to many, the go-to lawyer when advice was sought for navigating large-scale, complex transactions, especially in the world of real estate, finance or corporate law. His advice was valued both for his wisdom and for the high ethical standard he maintained with every professional and personal undertaking. He was the proverbial class act.
The fog that is so characteristic of many age-related or trauma-caused infirmities was particularly cruel when it descended upon Steve, because there was no clearer, sharper or more astute thinker than Steve Porter when he was in his prime, and for many years thereafter.
I was privileged to spend a lot of time with Steve, especially after his retirement from the practice of law. We even took continuing education classes together at Cal State, San Bernardino in Palm Desert. Steve’s appetite for new knowledge was unappeasable. He loved the arts and was appointed to the National Endowment for the Arts, by President George W. Bush—a responsibility he took very seriously.
Steve spoke beautifully and thoughtfully because he thought clearly and decisively. His advice was always sharp and crisp and on point. And while he was a serious man who dealt with serious matters for most of his working life, he reveled in the delight of great humor. No one loved a good joke, or a well-told story, more than Steve Porter. He rewarded a good story or joke teller with a laugh that seemed to roar from every fiber of his being. Listening to him laugh was as much fun as the joke or story itself. Steve’s laugh was simply the ultimate reward for a joke well told.
There is an old Hebraic saying that those who are remembered never die. Many of us will always remember Steve because of his good counsel, his strong friendship and, perhaps most vividly, his hearty laugh.