Deceased March 25, 2017
Art Porter passed away on March 25 at the age of 86 at his home in Jonzac, France. His extended family gathered in Jonzac for a quiet ceremony. Art was a native of Amherst and a graduate of Deerfield Academy in 1948. After graduation form Amherst, Art worked for the National Security Agency in Washington, D.C. Upon leaving the agency, he enrolled with the management trainee program at GE. In 1961, Art began working at Raytheon in Massachusetts.
In 1971, Art and his family made a radical change to the direction and purpose of his life. Art and his family left the Boston suburb of Wayland and became Special Placement Peace Corp Volunteer in Alor Star, Malaysia. It was a display of courage and conviction for Art and his wife, Elizabeth Rundquist, to make such a commitment. For two years, Art worked for the Muda Agriculture Authority, which was funded by the World Bank. The purpose of the called Muda scheme was to double Malaysia’s domestic rice production in coordination with 50,000 farmers. Art was in charge of the planning, development and management of the computer systems. While living in Malaysia, he and his family traveled throughout Southeast Asia.
In 1973, the Porter family returned to the United States and Art started his career at UNICEF. The family moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., and Art began working as a devoted international civil servant, as Chief of Supply Operations, Assistant to the Director of the Supply Division and Deputy Director of the Supply Division. Art mainly worked at UNICEF’s headquarters in New York City, and he was stationed in Copenhagen for a few years before retiring. Art took on many special assignments and traveled the world to advance the mission of UNICEF.
In 1989 Art married Michele Nezereau. At their retirement from UNICEF, Art and Michele returned to Michele’s hometown of Jonzac, France. During retirement, Art and Michele enjoyed hosting many friends and family at their home. He loved the French culture, cuisine and wine. He continued to love and read about history and do crossword puzzles, and focused his energies on family genealogy, keeping up with changes at Amherst, discussing politics and following his grandchildren and sharing life with Michele. Art is buried in Cimetiere Municipal Marie de Jonzac, in France.
In addition to Michele, Art is survived by his four children from his first marriage to Elizabeth Rundquist. Arthur L. “Scott” Porter Jr. and his wife, Marcy; Karl L. Porter and his wife, Kristen; Edward S. “Ted” Porter ’84 and his wife, Jennifer; and Laura Cohen and her husband, Irwin; and grandchildren Ethan, Gideon, Seth, Sam, Andrew, Alison, Ben and Sam.
At Amherst, Art majored in psychology and was a member of Delta Upsilon. Dad loved a good story and his heartfelt laughter told you so. Classmate Hank Kreuter remarked on Art’s “low key” sense of humor by sharing the following fond Amherst story.
“In our sophomore year, the DU house had a traditional British-India Saturday cocktail party when all the brothers dressed up as officers stationed in the Raj. Art and I had the idea of going to ROTC UMass to see whether we could arrange to arrive at the DU house with our dates in military vehicles. The fall day was beautiful, and we arrived at the party in jeeps, troop carriers, even a tank all driven by UMass ROTC staffers who enjoyed themselves as much as we did. Of course the kids of the town followed the military parade and enjoyed climbing into the military vehicles encouraged by the friendly drivers. The upper classmen had to recognize that their young pledges at least had imaginations. One problem was that when the tank turned into position on the back lawn of the DU house, the beautiful lawn was chewed up to resemble newly plowed potato field. I thought your father and I would receive a lofty replanting bill, but fortunately it didn’t happen.”
I was fortunate to have visited with my father just a few months prior to his passing. To be able to spend that time with him was a gift, even if some of it was spent discussing the inanity of the “Lord Jeff” removal. Dad was a true man of Amherst: a native of the town, son of Dean of the college and a Lord Jeff himself.
Dad was a man who thought of others before himself. His dedication to serving the needs of the disadvantaged during his stint in the Peace Corp, his commitment to his career at UNICEF and serving the children of the world and his concern and care for his four children and their families are hallmarks of his care for others.
Ted Porter ’84