September 24, 1924 – October 11, 2022
Gordon Charles Porter, who relished every day of the past 32 years as a resident of Siskiyou County, died October 11, 2022, at his home in Klamath River Country Estates. He was 98.
Mr. Porter and his wife Doris retired here from San Jose after he concluded a career in electrical engineering in Silicon Valley. He was an Army veteran of World War II, having served in the Pacific Theater of the war from 1943 to the end of 1945.
Post-war veterans’ benefits made possible his education at San Luis Obispo and Ventura junior colleges and California State Polytechnic College (Cal Poly), where he completed a three-year electrical technical curriculum and graduated in 1951. Later as a young husband and father, while working nights at Southwest Airways as a radio mechanic, he studied by day at Healds Engineering College in San Francisco, earning an electrical engineering degree in 1957.
Mr. Porter began his engineering career at the Philco Corp. Advance Development Laboratory in Redwood City on a staff of 65 employees, which grew to be 3,500 by 1970 when the company was acquired by the Ford Motor Co. and renamed Ford Aerospace. He designed equipment for control centers that managed satellites, sometimes traveling to install devices in far-flung sites, such as U.S. installations in Greenland, as well as NASA’s Mission Control in Houston, Texas. He also worked on roadbed traffic controller systems and in the design of test equipment for Ford Aerospace subsidiaries.
Born and reared in San Luis Obispo near the Central California coast, Mr. Porter was the first-born of Vernon and Elizabeth Porter. During the Great Depression, their father encouraged his sons from a young age to earn pocket money through candy, magazine and newspaper subscription sales, pumping gas as teenagers and doing janitorial work. After he and a cousin rebuilt a derelict Model-T Ford, Mr. Porter got a job during high school working at the post office 7-days a week for two hours before school and two hours after school each day. He was drafted into the U.S. military during the first semester of his senior year in high school, but had enough credits to gain a diploma.
Because of his civilian work experience, Mr. Porter was assigned by the Army as a mail orderly. While his unit was in Hawaii, he was part of an Honor Guard posted in front of the reviewing stand for a military parade in July 1944 that included President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Admiral Chester Nimitz and General Douglas MacArthur, who were meeting in Hawaii for a top-level strategy session. A month later Mr. Porter and his unit were on their way to Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, Manus Island near New Guinea, and Leyte in the Philippines, going ashore on Day 2 of the assault by U.S. troops on the Japanese-held island. A few days later, the young soldier witnessed Gen. MacArthur’s promised return to the Philippines, striding through the surf to the beach and waiting media. In April 1945 Mr. Porter’s unit was aboard the troop ship USS Alpine, about to go ashore on Okinawa, when it was hit by an enemy kamikaze aircraft that damaged but did not sink the ship. His unit went ashore the next morning and was still on Okinawa when the Japanese government surrendered and the war was declared over on Sept. 2, 1945. Mr. Porter’s unit then moved on to Korea where he stayed until dispatched home in December.
Throughout his training and wartime service Mr. Porter carried his trusty box camera. Photography was a life-long hobby and source of new learning as Mr. Porter shifted over the years to new types of cameras and from film to digital photography. His exploration and love of the West is reflected in many of his pictures. His other hobbies were woodworking and furniture-making, computers, genealogy research and writing. He used his engineering skills to enhance the manufactured home he and his wife chose to situate on a hillside overlooking the valley where the Klamath River flows below Irongate Reservoir, with views of Pilot Rock and Mt. Ashland.
Mr. Porter also used his camera for travel photography on the cruises his wife Doris initiated to faraway places, from Australia to St. Petersburg, Russia and Iceland to the southern tip of South America. The trips were fun and educational, but it was the Porters’ home above the Klamath that gave them endless pleasure because of their good neighbors and the deer, turkeys, rabbits, squirrels and birds that roamed their homestead.
Gordon and Doris Porter marked their 69th anniversary in May on a wedding date shared by four generations of Doris Preston Porter’s family, beginning in 1892 with her Wadsworth grandparents in New Hampshire through the Porters’ son Donald and his bride Ernestine Modesitt nearly a century later.
Mr. Porter is survived by wife Doris, son Donald Preston Porter, grandson Mackenzie Dean Porter, brother Richard Porter, nephew Shawn Porter, and nieces Ellen Bevier and Gail Boettcher. Mr. Porter was preceded in death by his father, Vernon Leonard Porter of San Luis Obispo; mother, Elizabeth Ellen Gallego Porter of Hornbrook; and his brother Norman Porter of San Francisco.
The family appreciates the care of the staff at Madrone Hospice and suggests memorial donations to the hospice, 255 Collier Circle, Yreka, CA 96097 or madronehospice.org.
A graveside service will be held on Tuesday, October 18, 2022 at 11:00 AM at the Henley Hornbrook Cemetery.