Entrepreneur crafted success

Entrepreneur crafted success

Posted Wednesday, June 13, 2007

George K. Porter ~ 1923-2007

By the age of 25, George K. Porter already owned nearly half a city block and was building his own house.

Fifty-eight years later, those achievements could be viewed as only signs of success that was yet to come for the self-made businessman.

“It’s amazing when you think of kids today and all the things he did by 25,” Mr. Porter’s wife of 57 years, Alice, said Tuesday. “He worked hard and was a real saver; nobody gave him money.”

A World War II veteran and co-founder of the G. Porter & Co. masonry firm in St. Charles, Mr. Porter died Saturday of natural causes. He was 83.

A St. Charles native, he graduated in 1942 from what was then St. Charles High School, where he was an athlete and held a track record for more than 25 years.

Mr. Porter then attended Knox College in Galesburg before serving in World War II as an Army Air Corps radar technician, relatives said.

Upon returning home and later marrying, Mr. Porter saved money and worked toward investing in five house lots on the north side of Fellows Street, between Fourth and Sixth streets, his wife said.

He built a small home there for his family. But it eventually was outgrown.

“Here was this little house: two bedrooms, one bath … we lived there for 18 years with two boys,” Alice Porter recalled with a chuckle. “We finally decided we had to do something, so we moved next door. We carried chairs out of one door and moved into the next. That was the big move.”

About 1950, George Porter and his brother, Douglas, founded the Porter Brothers masonry business with little more than themselves and a “beat-up, old truck,” his wife said. It was later renamed G. Porter & Co. and, in the late ’70s, was taken over by his sons, Gary and Richard.

The company still is in operation today and has about 120 employees.

“He respected people and had a lot of great common sense,” Gary Porter said of his father’s key to success.

George Porter tried to stay involved in business operations until his death — even after a stroke in 1991 limited mobility in his arm and leg.

“When he had the stroke, he said, ‘Well, you deal with what you get,’æ” his wife recalled. “And he laid there on the floor exercising until he got his arm and leg moving again, then got back to pounding a hammer.”

A memorial service for Mr. Porter is planned for 10:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 101 S. Sixth Ave. in St. Charles.

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