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William Ernest Porter

May 11, 1945 August 25, 2021
William Ernest Porter
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Obituary for William Ernest Porter
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William Porter was born in Catskill, NY on May 11, 1945. He was the fifth of seven boys born to the late Bernard and Mary Oliver Porter of Coxsackie, NY. He was known as Will or Willie until college where friends began calling him Bill.

Bill was a lifelong learner. After graduating from Coxsackie-Athens Central High School, Bill obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from Syracuse University, a Master of Science degree from Purdue University, a Juris Doctorate from George Washington University and a Master of Divinity from Virginia Union University.

While still a high schooler, Bill met the love of his life, Sharon Brodhead. They married on January 29, 1966, while Bill was in his junior year of college. To this union were born two children, DeNon and Jerlym.

Bill was a corporate executive for most of his career but left corporate life to pursue other job opportunities from time to time. He loved doing something new. Bill was a founding faculty member of the first undergraduate Computer Science department in the state of Georgia. This was at Atlanta University Center in 1969. The consortium of schools included Morehouse College, Spelman College, Clark College, and Morris Brown College. Bill loved to say “We were first. We taught computer science before Georgia Tech.” Bill worked in corporate America until another challenge presented itself. He took a position in the administration of Virginia governor L. Douglas Wilder, the first African American governor in the United States. Bill joined the administration as Deputy Secretary of Economic Development but later was appointed to Deputy Chief of Staff. This was a job he thoroughly enjoyed. Bill wrote about his experiences in his first book Virginia State Government: Fun, Frustrating, and Frightening. After his time in government, he returned to corporate America until he took the position of Chief Administrative Officer for Shiloh Baptist Church in Alexandria, VA, where he worshiped. Bill was instrumental in overseeing the building of a new worship center for Shiloh and also the transformation of Beasley Square from unused space to affordable housing for seniors in Alexandria, VA. He later established The Way Youth Initiative, 501 (c)(3), “making teen summer jobs happen,” by providing funding for summer employment for high school students in Alexandria and Richmond, VA.

While Bill moved to different parts of the country as a result of job opportunities, he always found a new church home where he could serve God. Bill loved to sing and wherever he lived, he was an active member of the church choir. He loved the Word of God, and his desire to know God and His Word better led him to attend divinity school, and after years of studying the Bible to write two books: Making Room for a Big God and More God Centric and Less Situation Centric Living.

Bill truly sought to live a God-centered life. On August 25, 2021, he departed this life and entered the presence of the God he served and loved.

Bill was predeceased by his brothers Thomas and Bernard, sisters-in-law Dolores Willis and Helene Brodhead, and brother-in-law John Burris. Left to cherish his memory are his devoted wife of 55 years, Sharon; son DeNon (Michelle) of Inglewood, CA; daughter Jerlym (Dennis) of Memphis, TN; grandchildren Calvin, Chloe, Candace, and Camille; brothers Joseph (Elaine) of Atlanta, GA, Richard and Francis of Coxsackie, NY, and John of Camden, NJ; brother-in-law Timothy Brodhead (Sue) of Camarillo, CA; sisters-in-law Shirley Porter of Georgetown, SC, Bernadette Porter of Houston, TX, Gloria Carey of Brooklyn, NY, Mary Smith (Jerry) of Kingston, NY and Betty Buell (Byron) of Canoga Park, CA; many nieces and nephews, and a host of other relatives and friends.

Serenity Funeral Home, Tel. (901)379-0861.
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1638 Sycamore View Road
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Serenity Funeral Home
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1638 Sycamore View Road
Memphis, TN 38134

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United States

Cemetery Details


Memorial Park Cemetery Final Resting Place

5668 Poplar Ave.
Memphis, TN 38119

5668 Poplar Ave. Memphis 38119 TN
United States

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