November 10, 2019

Stephen Porter: In Remembrance – February 22, 1939 – November 8, 2019

by Hal Gershowitz

Comments Below

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.

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21 responses to “Stephen Porter: In Remembrance – February 22, 1939 – November 8, 2019”

  1. Perry says:

    Remembering someone for their intellect,kindness,charity and
    other contributions to society is indeed what life lived should be

    Your sincere feelings of Mr Porter are indicative of the man
    you are and is a clear reminder that friends and associates who
    were respected in life will continue even after passing.

  2. Jan Harnik says:

    … written and shared beautifully.

  3. Larry Fox says:

    A Swedish proverb: Among friends, joys re multiplied while sorrows are divided. I hope you are comforted, to whatever degree you can be, by your many friends who share your sense of loss.

  4. Paul lubar says:

    I, too, was fortunate to have Steve as a friend and attorney in Washington for many years. His wise counsel as an attorney was exceptional for me my wife and our son. His humor was unsurpassed. I remember fondly his emcee duties at my fiftieth birthday roast. He will be sorely missed.

  5. Michael Gong says:

    Our deepest condolences to the entire Porter family.

  6. Elliot solomon says:

    I was fortunate enough to have played with Steve his last round of golf here in the desert. At lunch his story telling was fascinating . He was one of the good ones
    RIP Steve

  7. Michael Regan says:

    My condolences

  8. Paul Silverstein says:

    Although I didn’t have the pleasure of personally meeting Stephan, I deeply appreciate his contribution to this blog of which I’ve been a devoted follower for many years. I know he had a distinguished career in law and the arts and contributed to the well-being of mankind. For all these distinguished achievements he is to be commemorated and honored.
    My deep sympathies to his family and friends.

  9. Peter Nash says:

    Steve never tried to steal the limelight. Didn’t have to. He was the limelight. I enjoyed every minute I ever spent with him and I was fortunate enough to spend quite a bit, though it was long ago, when we were sent as a team to interview all the “players” in the “City” back in ‘97 to decide who could best serve McArthurGlen’s investment banker/advisory needs. I felt after every meeting, and there were many, Steve’s huge impact on earning not only every single audiences’ respect, but equally important, their affection. What a fulfilling time for me.

    Love you forever Steve Porter!

  10. gloriaguttman says:

    So sorry for your loss, Harold :thank you for your enlighted tribute of Stephen Porter.

  11. judy allen says:

    Steve was truly one of a kind, much loved by all who knew him. I am so sorry for your loss Hal I know how you and Diane loved him… did we. My heart turns to Susan and know you and the family will always be there for her.

  12. Jerry kaufman says:

    You’ve made me sorry that I never got to meet him.

  13. GaiL Sehler says:

    Sending my condolences to you Hal, Diane and the Porter family.
    He was a sweet man and loved by many.
    Your remembrance is a fitting tribute to someone who has been a part of your lives for many years. A truly great loss for all.

  14. Debbie Kay says:

    What a beautiful tribute to a remarkable man. My most heartfelt condolences to you, Diane and the rest of his family.

  15. Dr Irving Becker says:

    Hal,having been an avid reader of your weekly letters for many years, I can certainly attest to your exceptional partnership with Steve. I have always enjoyed your expert analysis and have been impressed by the wide variety of subjects you cover. I was even more impressed with Stephen when I had the opportunity to meet him in person. His wit,erudition, and amicable demeanor were a delight. I had the good fortune to sit next to him at a dinner and remember to this day how much I enjoyed his company. he will be sorely missed. My deepest condolences, Irv

  16. Robert borns says:

    It’s a joy to read a wonderful tribute to an obviously wonderful man.

  17. Barbara Fromm says:

    An exquisitely written tribute to the life and memory of Steve Porter.
    Our condolences to you and Diane on the loss of such a special individual.
    May he rest in peace and be of blessed memory to all who grieve for him.
    Barbara and Bernie

  18. Martin Silvestri says:

    Our heartfelt condolences for your loss. You obviously were both the richer because of your deep respect and admiration for each other; as artists and as friends. Thank you both for your writings all these years … and I am sure Steve’s spirit will inspire you as you ‘carry on’.


    Marty and Christine

  19. Stephen Prover says:

    Wonderful piece, Hal…

  20. Chris Haedt says:

    Beautiful and heartfelt writing of such a great family man and friend. We will dearly miss Steve, and our love and condolences to Susan, her family , and to you and Diane.

    Chris and Ron

  21. Andrew Eliot Porter says:

    Thank you for authoring such a wonderful tribute and thank you also for continuously referencing my father as a part of this blog for the many years after he was unable to make a meaningful contribution. I hope you keep it going for another million words.

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