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Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Tom Porter balances work and play

  • Tom Porter, Cherryvale, has had a busy career as a pharmacist, but still found time for music and art. His 85th birthday is approaching, but he’s still active in all the things he enjoys.

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  • Tom Porter, Cherryvale, has had a busy career as a pharmacist, but still found time for music and art. His 85th birthday is approaching, but he’s still active in all the things he enjoys.
    His parents were Reginald W. Porter and Myrtle Hall Porter, who was a noted Cherryvale teacher and Lincoln Central Elementary School principal. A 1946 Cherryvale High School graduate, he started working at Squire Drug, which later became Carl Drug, while in high school. Drafted during World War II, Porter served in the Pacific Theatre.
    After being discharged from the military, he attended the University of Kansas and studied pharmacy, working during the summers for the Santa Fe Railroad.
    After earning his pharmacy degree, Porter returned to Cherryvale and became a pharmacist at Carl Drug. When the owner died, he purchased the drug store and owned it for approximately 30 years.  After selling the store, he went to work as a pharmacist at St. John’s Medical Center, Joplin, and was there 28 years before retiring.
    “I worked nights at St. John’s, which freed me to go different schools during the day,” Porter said in a telephone interview from his Cherryvale home.  “I spent quite a while at Missouri Southern State University, and I took one course at Pittsburg State university.”
    He said that PSU and the Porter family have a long history together.
    “Most all of my family has attended Pittsburg, starting with my mother, though there was a fire at Pittsburg and a fire at Emporia, and her records were lost,” Porter said. “My children also spent some time at Pittsburg. My daughter Peggy blew up the chemistry lab, but she still passed the course. We’re all attuned to PSU. It’s a good school.”
    He has played French horn for many years, and for several years drove from Cherryvale to Pittsburg to play in the Southeast Kansas Symphony. He also spent some time at Missouri Southern State College and played French horn there in the orchestra and in the marching band. He played for many years in the Coffeyville Municipal Band and the Coffeyville Community College band, and in musicals at Coffeyville and during the Neewollah festival at Independence.
    He is also interested in art, and studied painting with Leonard Woods, Leonard Wren and Annie Wu.
    Porter was also active in civic organizations. When Cherryvale had a Lions Club and a Rotary Club, he served as president of both organizations. He was a Mason and a Shriner. He was on the original Four County Mental Health Board when it was organized, and served six  years on the Cherryvale Board of Education until his wife, Helen, began teaching at the elementary school. He has been active in the First Presbyterian Church at Cherryvale for many  years.
    Page 2 of 2 - Porter has cut back a little but, but still plays French horn in the Mid-Continent Band at Independence, and still works as needed for several pharmacists in the area. He’s also currently serving on the boards of the Cherryvale Museum and Cherryvale Library.
    He and his wife, Helen, had four children.
    “Now there are quite a few grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” Porter said. “We’ve been really blessed.”
    All friends and relatives are invited to help him celebrate his 85th birthday from 4 to 6 p.m. Sept. 17 at the First Presbyterian Church, Fourth and Montgomery, Cherryvale. Finger foods and cake will be served.

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