The Mississippi Link Newswire
City, community and religious leaders came out to celebrate the life of the late Richard J. Porter with the naming ceremony for the Richard J. Porter Municipal Building at 218 S. President St., Jackson, Friday, Dec. 14, at 3 p.m., hosted by the Jackson Redevelopment Authority.
The former and present mayors of Jackson paid tributes, Kane Ditto and Harvey Johnson Jr., respectively. The invocation was given by Dr. Jerry Young, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church. Greetings were extended by Bishop Ronnie Crudup, the chairman of Jackson Redevelopment Authority. The program convener was Beneta D. Burt, commissioner of the Jackson Redevelopment Authority.
Gailya Porter, Porter’s widow, said “The Porter/Thompson/Smith family is appreciative to the citizens of this great city for allowing us to participate in such a humbling experience. Thank you for naming a building after Richard…. Wow, what an honor!” The program included the unveiling of a Richard J. Porter portrait.
Porter was recognized as a great entrepreneur, a community leader, a tireless humanitarian, and an all around first class person with a generous spirit.
He attended Perryman Elementary and Junior High Schools, where he was 3rd in the top 10 of his class.
He was named valedictorian of the 1966 class of Sumner Hill High School and continued to excel academically at Jackson State University. In 1970, he received the Bachelor of Arts degree in history and political science from JSU.
Upon graduation from Jackson State University, he entered the workforce as a salesman and warehouse manager for Karl Shoe Store. Shortly thereafter, he entered his life’s career in the insurance industry, where he created a legacy of service to his customers and to the community.
He served as vice president of Statewide General Insurance Agency, Inc. from 1973-1983. On Oct. 1, 1983, he established Porter’s Insurance Agency, Inc. where he served as president and agent. He pursued additional studies and became a certified property and casual underwriter through Millsap College in 1993.
A community-minded entrepreneur, Porter was active in Jackson’s business, civic and social arenas. He became a commissioner of the Jackson Redevelopment Authority in February 1990 and was elected board chair in 1992. During those 14 years, Porter assisted in improving economic development for the City of Jackson.
Some of the projects he focused on were renovation of the Warren A. Hood Building, refinancing and renovation of Union Station, Jackson Medical Mall and JRA parking garages, and acquisition of the King Edward Hotel and properties for the Convention Center.
His business and professional affiliations included many memberships:
Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum;
Jackson State University Regional Alumni Board;
Jackson Redevelopment Authority;
Board member of the Downtown Jackson Partners;
Mississippi Local Work Force Investment Board and Professional Insurance Agents;
Life member of Jackson State University Alumni Association (local and national levels);
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity;
Member of 100 Black Men of America, Inc.;
Monday Evening Club;
Magnolia Insurance Agents;
Founding member of the Blue Bengal Athletic Association (JSU Booster Club);
Among the first investors for Lakeover Memorial Funeral Home.; and
Member of T.C. Almore Lodge Number 242, M.W. Stringer Grand Lodge, P.H.A., and the L.K. Atwood Elks Lodge.
He received numerous awards and recognitions for his achievements, among them the Plaque of Appreciation, Jackson State University Gift Club (2005); Certificate of Appreciation, 100 Black Men of Jackson Mentoring Program at Brown Elementary School (1999); Plaque of Appreciation as founder of Porter’s Bowling League (1997); Minority Service Industry Firm of the Year Award from The Jackson Minority Business Development Center (1995); Omega Man of the Year from Omega Psi Phi Fraternity (1994); Dedicated Service Award from Bethlehem Center, Inc. Board of Directors (1986-1987); Distinguished Service Award from Jackson Hinds Alumni Chapter (1983); and Dedicated Service Award from Statewide General Insurance Agency, Inc. (1983).
Amid his busy career, civic and professional responsibilities, Richard enjoyed traveling.