I am very sorry to report the death of David H. Porter, with whom I worked very closely for almost my entire term as Executive Director. He served as Chair of our Development Committee from its revival in 2000 until this past January. In that role he led an effort that tripled the number of members who made annual giving donations and more than quadrupled the amount raised. He was also an active member of the Steering Committee for the Gateway Campaign. This citation for the Distinguished Service Award that the Society awarded to David in 2013 describes the many ways in which he advanced our field and our organization. The current President of Skidmore College, which David led from 1987 to 1999, has issued this moving statement about David's contributions to that institution.
As both the citation and the statement show, David's areas of expertise and talents were wide and deep. He once told me about an interaction with a graduate school advisor who said that he needed to choose between music and classics because he would be able to succeed in only one of those areas. David ignored that advice, and those of us who crossed his path (including those who knew him only as a perceptive contributor to the letters columns of The New Yorker and the book review section of the New York Times) benefitted mightlily from his refusal to accept ordinary limits. I will miss his devotion to the classics and humanities, his enthusiasm for our work, and his conviction that we could always improve on our latest accomplishments even if those successes were greater than we had dared to hope for.
The photograph below was taken at the President's Reception in 2013 immediately after David received his Distinguished Service Award and shows him with his son, Hugh.
Adam D. Blistein