Hello. I’d like to tell you about a friend of mine, Dan Porter, who turned 98 last month and is one of our oldest church members. He and his wife, Phyll, joined First Plymouth in 1949, when we were located at 14th and Lafayette. Many of you might not know Dan and those who do have not seen him around lately. He no longer drives, is confined to a wheelchair and prefers the familiarity of his home. He used to come to church nearly every Sunday.
Some of Dan’s early history: He was born and raised in Champaign/Urbana, Illinois. His father was a professor at the University of Illinois in the School of Engineering, where Dan enrolled in the mechanical engineering program after graduating from high school. But WWII came along and interrupted his studies. He enlisted in the army and was assigned to facilitate the shipment of war hardware and supplies to the Russians through Alaska. At the end of the war, First Lieutenant Dan was the last soldier to close the base where he was stationed. He returned to Urbana, got married to Phyll and finished his studies. After graduation, they packed up their car and headed to California in search of the good life. They stopped in Denver on their way to visit some friends (and get free lodging) and never left. They didn’t make it to California, but they did find the good life.
Dan had several jobs during his first years in Denver. Then, he met Jim Blackington and Don Decker, both members at First Plymouth, and joined their construction company in 1956. He bought the company from Jim and Don in 1967 and ultimately retired in 1991. Not surprisingly, Stuart Haskins, former senior minister, felt that Dan’s background qualified him to be the church’s unofficial facilities manager. As Dan’s children remember it, Dan was always early to church so that he could make his inspections of the building and talk with the custodians. Even at 78 he was up on the roof replacing tiles or down in the basement inspecting the boiler. As Dan’s son Will remembers it, there was nothing more enjoyable for he and his father than shoveling pigeon droppings out of our bell tower.
In addition to being the head facilities person at FP, Dan served a similar function at Kentucky Circle, as well as serving on its board of directors and driving the facility’s bus each week to the grocery store. At the Denver Inner City Parish, Dan was always the go-to guy when they had problems with the church building and then the community center building on Mariposa. He also got to know the pigeons in the Parish’s church bell tower. In 1997, Dan and Phyll received the First Plymouth Foundation Caring Award for their volunteering at DICP.
Dan still lives in the same home he built, much of it by himself, in Golden in the mid-50s. The house is a classic mid-century modern design with a beautiful view of the front range. People can see it for themselves if they stop by for a visit. Please call in advance.
(written by Bruce Thumm)