Thomas Gene Porter was born April 21, 1929, in Stillwater, Minnesota, to Lawton and Florence (Swanson) Porter. He was raised in Bayport, graduated from Stillwater High School in 1947, and in 1951, received his BA in Physical Education and minor in Biology from St. Olaf College. In 1952, he was drafted into the US Army during the Korean Conflict and served in Germany. Following his honorable discharge he returned to Minnesota and accepted a teaching position in Neenah, Wisconsin. On December 29, 1954, at First Lutheran Church in Albert Lea, Tom married his college sweetheart Gloria Emstad. After marriage they lived in Neenah until the Fall 0f 1958 when Tom accepted the position with St. Olaf as Assistant Professor of Physical Education for Men. During his tenure he served as a professor and as a coach of football, hockey, baseball and track & field. He retired in 1991.
Tom was an active member of St. John’s Lutheran Church and a former member of the Northfield Rotary Club. He enjoyed sports, golf, fishing and gardening. He was a true “history buff” and authored “The Greatest Game – A History of St. Olaf College Football”. His greatest pleasure came from spending time with his wife and family and spending time with friends and family at Greenstone Cottage on the North Shore.
During his lifetime, Tom created a legacy of honor, honesty, respect and integrity with the young men and women he taught and coached. The influence he had on others will long endure.
Survivors include his wife of 58 years, Gloria; 4 children: Mark and wife Jane of Key West, Florida, Todd and wife Jill of Chanhassen, Anne and husband Bob Tessien of St. Louis Park, Laura and husband Eric Engwall of Lakeville; 11 grandchildren: Jacob (Michelle), Nathan (Molly) and Samuel (fiancee Meagan) Porter, Scott (Heather), Rebecca and Margaret Porter, Sarah, Hannah and Emma Tessien, Carl and Anders Engwall; 2 great-grandchildren, Addison and Liesl; his brother-in-law, William (Ingrid) Emstad of Edina; other relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents and sister Mary Gasser.
Tom passed away peacefully with his wife and children by his side on Thursday morning, January 24, 2013, at the Northfield Hospital, at the age of 83.
A celebration of Tom’s life will be held at 2:00 PM, Tuesday, January 29, 2013, at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Northfield with Revs. Steve Swanson & John Quam officiating. Honorary pall bearers are Jim Dimick, Bill Emstad, Bob Gelle, Dave Hauck, Tim Larsen, Don Sahling and Chuck Lunder (posthumously). Visitation will be 3-7PM Monday, January 28, 2013, in the Black & Gold Room of Buntrock Commons at St. Olaf College. Visitation will continue at the church on Tuesday one hour prior to the service.
Memorials are preferred to a scholarship fund to be established at St. Olaf College in Tom’s name.
Arrangements are with the Benson & Langehough Funeral Home. www.northfieldfuneral.com