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James R. Porterfield, Jr.
Date of Death: January 1, 2015
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Sunday 1/4, 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
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Monday 1/5, 2:00 pm

James R. Porterfield, Jr.            James Richard Porterfield, Jr., 71, of Winchester, Virginia, died Thursday, January 1, 2015, in Aldie, Virginia.            Mr. Porterfield was born in June 30, 1943, in Roanoke, Virginia, the son of James and Charlotte Porterfield, Sr.  He was a veteran having served in the United States Army achieving …
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Joe Hirst left a message on January 2, 2015:
Sorry to hear of his passing...Mr. Porterfield was such a great teacher.
Meribeth Alabaugh left a message on January 3, 2015:
Mr. Porterfield, you were one of my favorite teachers. Thank you for making me love English again. I enjoyed coming to your class everyday because your love for the subject was infectious. I will always remember our assignment on the waves of time. I was extremely pleased to be assigned Neoclassism. It deeply saddens me that the world had lost such an amazing person and phenomenal educator. I hope that I am able to give my students a fraction of what you have given to me sir.
Elisabeth Jones Morrey left a message on January 3, 2015:
Mr. Porterfield taught all 3 of us in the Jones family. My father was a fellow VMI graduate and we all respected him immensely! I loved his class and his voice and teachings stayed with me all of these years! I feel incredibly lucky to have been one of his students. Much love to the family during this very difficult time.
Mary Halnon Kadera left a message on January 4, 2015:
Jim Porterfield was my colleague and our English department chair when I taught at Handley High School in the 1990s. There aren't many teachers like Jim Porterfield left--those who understand it as an art and a lifelong calling. I enjoyed every day as his colleague "H", from the day he interviewed me for the job at Handley (and put me through my paces!) to the time I left Winchester for graduate school. Brian, Patti, and Ellen, I'm so sorry for your loss.
Fred & Marie Cheshire left a message on January 4, 2015:
Our Prayers and sympathy go out to Ellen and family. When we joined the Valley Cruisers Car Club, Jim & Ellen welcomed Marie and I. Soon we became good friends. Jim was such a good man and for many years was Santa at the Valley Cruisers annual Christmas banquet. The children loved him. Jim was a kind, good hearted man. We will miss him very much. R.I.P Jim.
Peace of mind is a call away. We're here when you need us most.
David Rice left a message on January 4, 2015:
I was on a conference call a few weeks ago when one of my colleagues used the verb 'cogitate' -- I hadn't heard the term in 35 years. I interrupted the call to tell everyone how my high school English teacher would pace through the classroom, softly muttering "cogitate, cogitate" under his breath as we took exams. I've since made a living by writing, in no small part because of Mr. Porterfield. Notice how all the former students here refer to him only as "Mr." Porterfield? The man commanded respect, not just for himself but for ourselves with his expectations for us. Thank you, Mr. Porterfield, for teaching us to cogitate.
Jim Stotler left a message on January 4, 2015:
As a former colleague of Mr. "P", I always enjoyed our lively discussions in the faculty lounge at Handley. He was truly a gifted teacher who greatly influenced many of his students. My deepest condolences to his family.
Linda Taylor left a message on January 4, 2015:
Jim Porterfield was a true gentleman, scholar, and friend. He will be missed and never be forgotten. My sympathies go out to his family and all who knew him! "T"
JT Mistr left a message on January 5, 2015:
JHHS '87 and VMI '91 - as my younger brother reminded me today..."humanists - let's went!" A great teacher, inspiring like Robin Williams in Dead Poet Society...knew everyone by their full name before they ever stepped into the classroom. A veteran but you wouldn't have known that because he was not a boastful man. We meet people in our lifetime that impact us forever...Mr. Porterfield is one of those for me - and I suspect many many others as well. We celebrate you sir!
Robert Sibert, JHHS Class of 1981 left a message on January 5, 2015:
Mr. Porterfield was somebody I think we all wish we all knew how to be. Teaching at Handley, he always had his three piece suit with a tie or bow-tie and like a tuxedo shirt. He was always decked out, right down to the shined shoes and well-groomed beard. He always had a smile on his face and always knew the rules of engagement. And engage us he did, indeed! Even though I was not one of the students who kept the "bell curve" up, I always knew where I stood in Mr. Porterfield's class. Mr. Porterfield, I think, graded more papers than any other teacher I have known because he graded everything to plug into the bell curve. He always offered to help his students with class material they didn't understand. He was a fan of positively using statistics, as well as being a brilliant strategist. He made everyone in his classes aware of where they stood at any given time. I think I had him 1st period. Back when I was in school, if you were eighteen years old you could could drink all forms of alcohol. And because of this, and me not being the only one, a gaggle of us would sometimes come to class hung over. I will always remember the 1st period bell would ring and Mr. Porterfield would announce "Pop quiz! Pop quiz!" just when I thought I was going to be able to sleep. And you either needed to know either your 10 vocabulary word per day definitions or be able to answer questions about the homework reading assignment, depending on which quiz he decided to give, or just try and wing it. But years later, I have come to realize that he did that pop quiz (at least twice a week and at random but always at the start of class) to wake us up to at least get us to read more and listen more to a reading of some fine English Literature via the dramatic Mr. Porterfield flare. Even I remember scenes from Macbeth. How? I don't know but Mr. Porterfield got through to me. Remember his rules for being tardy? It was as long as you break the plane of the classroom door before "whom the bell tolls" you were okay. But fail to break the plane before the bell stops vibrating, no way out of it - tardy. I asked him one time why pop quizzes. His response was "Well, Robert Sibert, you will never always know when in life and at what hour you will be called upon. When you are, you should always be prepared, or at least look like it until you are (paraphrased)." Mr. Porterfield was a fair man. He had a wonderful sense of humor. He did everything with a passion. Everyone who had his class respected him. But yet he could still could still be so spot on the students' level as a great communicator. I don't think I will ever meet another person like Mr. Porterfield. How many teachers do you know that can remember every student and their first and last names that they ever taught during their whole time teaching? I had not seen the man for 25 years. I say "Hello, Mr. Porterfield!" His reply "Hello, Robert Sibert", just like I just saw him yesterday. He always remembered everybody's name he knew. How do you top that? Thank you, Mr. Porterfield. You can stand down with honor, sir. May you rest in peace. Amen. My prayers and thoughts are with his family. What a great guy.
Susan McDowell left a message on January 5, 2015:
So sorry to hear of Mr Porterfield's passing. He made a significant impact on hundreds of students at Handley I've forwared his obituaryto my daughters.
Drew Saunders left a message on January 5, 2015:
Thank you, Mr. P.
Randy Natches left a message on January 5, 2015:
Please accept my condolences for your loss. Jim was a great person and a true gentleman. To know him was to love him. Randy Natches
Melissa Kauffmann Largent left a message on January 5, 2015:
I am filled with immense respect and gratitude as I reflect on my time in Mr. Porterfield’s humanities course at Handley. He embodied the true meaning of gentleman and benevolent scholar. Each student was treated with the utmost respect and in turn each student reciprocated that respect. He knew every first and last name by the second day of school, greeting each student at the door by name with a smile, nod, and a deep look into the eyes as if taking an inventory of the individual soul’s needs with a promise to make a difference. And a difference he did make! His passion for humanities was infectious. He transformed his students into scholars, worthy of great thought, entrenched in cultural studies, and inspired to create a new chapter in this history of civilization. While he will be greatly missed, he will never be forgotten. We take with us a bit of his wisdom, passion, and cordiality and the challenge to infinitely extend our interest and knowledge of the vast world while convivially engaging ourselves with those we encounter in our quotidian lives. Thank you, Mr. Porterfield.
Kelley Droll Hicks left a message on January 5, 2015:
Mr. Porterfield will be fondly remembered as the embodiment of educator. He taught us literature, self-respect, ageless imagination, tolerance, humor and the belief that learning was open to every single student. His classes knew no color or status. Every individual in his class was treated with dignity and encouraged to open their minds. He inspired me to continue my education and, to this day, many, many years later, still holds a very special place in my heart and mind. To his family, please know that he shared his love with each one of us. Thank you for sharing him with us.
Lorrie Aikens left a message on January 6, 2015:
Mr. Portfield was one of a kind teacher who touched the lives of so many. He expressed interest in each student as he taught each with such tremendous energy and enthusiasm. He surprised me by remembering the topic of a paper I submitted many years after graduating. He asked one question after another to find out where I was and what was going on. It was difficult to find out how he was doing. :o) But, this was the sincere and heartfelt interest he had for his students who were real people to him, people he cared for and did his best to inspire. I thank God for Mr. Porterfield and the wonderful foundation in writing received under his tutelage. His named was mentioned to several professors when asked where I learned to write. My prayers of gratitude and blessing to you his beloved family as you process your grief. My heart is with you.
Russ Potts left a message on January 9, 2015:
Dear Porterfield Family: Emily and I are so very sorry about the passing of Jim. He was a great man, a great role model, and he had a tremendous influence on so many of his students. Dr. P had a zest for life. He was a born leader and he brought magic to his classroom. My daughters, Katie and Kelly, loved him and so did Emily and I. May God’s comforting hand rest on your shoulder during these days that lie ahead. The memory of Dr. P in his Handley classroom will live on forever. Love and God bless. Your friends always, Russ and Emily Potts
Ainsley Rivers Waller left a message on January 3, 2015:
Mr. Porterfield: Thank you for Chaucer. Thank you for Beowulf. Thank you for Macbeth. Thank you for art and architecture and music. Thank you for respecting your students and expecting each and every one of us to be bright. Thank you for letting our intellects breathe and grow. And thank you for looking past my exterior, an exterior so hard for other teachers to get past, to see and guide a student thirsty to learn and appreciate and work and grow. Because of you, today I work as a wordsmith. Because of you, I try to bring the top of my intelligence and love of language to my work each day. Thank you for everything.
Colonel Douglas J Lamude, USA, Ret. left a message on January 3, 2015:
Jim Porterfield and I were friends for 50 years. We first met at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma in the mid 1960’s at the height of the War in Viet Nam. From the moment we met, I felt our relationship was one that would last. He was my boss. He was the brother I always wanted, but never had. I was in awe of his professionalism, and the instant respect he commanded from everyone. He had the courage to speak the truth to power. When we met I had never taught anyone to do anything and had never made a speech in public. The Army offers few choices to its soldiers. I was ordered to the Field Artillery School, and I would teach. I shared my concerns about teaching with Lieutenant Porterfield who told me we’d overcome that, and we did – as always, together. Jim left the Army for a graduate degree from Virginia Tech and a brilliant teaching career at Handley, while I remained in the Army. We never lost touch for long, despite often thousands of miles of separation. It is sad that his many admirers in Winchester never saw him in action while on active duty with the Army. He was simply one of the finest officers with whom I ever served regardless of rank or position. Had he remained in the Army, his potential would have been unlimited. Winston Churchill once said of men like Jim Porterfield, “Twice the Citizen,” meaning – both a patriot in uniform and the classroom. I think his students at Handley came away with more than improved academic abilities, but more importantly with the important life skills required to succeed in a challenging world. He earned people’s respect and trust, because they knew him to be a man of character, honesty and integrity even in the most difficult times. General MacArthur said, “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.” Lieutenant Jim Porterfield was an old soldier who faded away much too soon. “Gary Owen,” Moon Man!
Philip Harper left a message on January 2, 2015:
Mr. Porterfield was an excellent teacher and a good man. I will miss his intellect and quick wit. He was one of my major inspirations. Ave atque vale, magister.
Peace of mind is a call away. We're here when you need us most.
Leslie Conroy left a message on January 2, 2015:
The teaching world has lost a legend and the world has lost a truly remarkable man. Mr. Porterfield taught me and my two sisters, and his passion for learning was passed on to every student lucky enough to have him. We are thinking of you and him, and we hope you find some comfort in the number of lives he inspired during his lifetime.
Debbie Minnis left a message on January 2, 2015:
My thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Porterfield's family and many friends. He will be greatly missed. I am so proud to have been one of his students at Handley. He was one of my favorite teachers. I learned a lot from him. A very kind soul.
Neil Braithwaite left a message on January 2, 2015:
Mr. Porterfield was my English teacher at Handley the first year he taught. He inspired my love of literature and writing. I can honestly say he was my favorite teacher. I spoke with him about some of my writing several years ago and he showed the same encouragement and enthusiasm to me then as he did in the classroom. He will be greatly missed. Blessings and condolences to his family and friends.
Tru ( Dearing ) Lawton, JHHS Class of '79 left a message on January 2, 2015:
Mr. Porterfield taught with unbridled passion. How fortunate was I to have been one of his pupils! He took time to briefly pop in on our 30th JHHS reunion and, for many, it was one of the highlights of the evening. Condolences to his family and friends. Tru
Charly Franks left a message on January 2, 2015:
No teacher had a greater impact on me... so many vivid memories of being in class... reading Macbeth... finishing the reading halfway through a class period... then Mr. Porterfield announcing, "Students, the best time to be examined on material is when it is fresh in your mind. So, without further ado, the exam on Macbeth!" A genuine, kind, and caring man who mentored so many. Truly his legacy will live on in all the lives of those he taught... those he loved... and those who love him. He is no doubt at peace in "a clean well lighted place".
Nancy Rebyak Higgs left a message on January 3, 2015:
They say that everyone has one teacher that is a defining influence on that student. For me that was Mr Porterfield. I took all of his advanced classes, and became very familiar with the Great Books in the process. Rest In Peace Mr Porterfield, we will meet again and I look forward to your vocabulary tests!!!!
Michael Andrew Ellis left a message on January 3, 2015:
I am so sorry to hear of Mr. Porterfield's passing. The world has lost a great man. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. Like others who have commented here, I was one of his students. I took 12th grade Humanities from him, and have never been the same. He was an extraordinary teacher! I remember him addressing us students as "Humanists!" What he conveyed so well was a passion for literature, art, and music. His love of these arts was ample enough to share with each of his many students. He certainly planted the seeds of appreciation for them in my heart, and it has grown over the years since. Farewell, fellow Humanist, may you rest with the assurance of having seized each day of your life for good and having finished your course a winner, with piles and piles of garlands at your feet from each of the lives you touched.
Robin Pifer left a message on January 3, 2015:
Carpe Diem - Mr. Porterfield embodied that spirit.
Stacey Lovett Clark left a message on January 3, 2015:
because of him, I am a teacher. His smile, laugh and enthusiasm for learning were contagious. He will be sorely missed.
Stacey Lovett Clark left a message on January 3, 2015:
Because of him, I am a teacher. His smile, laugh and love for learning were contagious. He will be sorely missed!
Annie Tedrow Rankin left a message on January 3, 2015:
Mr Porterfield was an impressively intelligent man and an excellent teacher who captivated his students with his unique style. the world is definitely less with out him. (Student 1995-96)N
Steve Smallwood left a message on January 3, 2015:
In my 1975 yearbook Mr. Porterfield wrote: “A Great Adventure - To lead a group of Confederate Solders, from Mt. Hebron Cemetery, across Woodstock Lane, to the National Cemetery, into battle once again!” Ride on my Captain, Ride on! You will be missed!
Doug Loy left a message on January 3, 2015:
No words can express the admiration, and respect this man had from his students. But we do give it our best shot. He was without a doubt among the best at Handley. Class of 75
Joyce McKay left a message on January 3, 2015:
He was a friendly fellow teacher. He addressed me as "M." He always told me to tell my brother-in-law who graduated from VMI that Moon Porterfield said, "Hello."
Natashya Armer-Giardina left a message on January 3, 2015:
What a man!!! So smart and so kind. He made me feel so welcomed when I moved to Winchester and came to Handley. He was a fantastic teacher! He will be missed. Rest in Peace Mr. Porterfield.
Heather Andrews Porto left a message on April 12, 2015:
I had heard of his passing just after it happened, but just now found his obituary. I still can't read The Rime of the Ancient Mariner without hearing his voice in my head as I read it. I will always remember his passion for literature, music, and the arts and conveying his vast knowledge of them to his students. He was a force to be reckoned with, larger than life, and totally unforgettable. I ran into him about 10 years after graduating from Handley, and he remembered my entire name on seeing me...while my sister was slightly horrified (as she probably didn't want teachers to remember her name!), I couldn't help but smile. I didn't know at the time as a student that he was an Army officer. Makes me proud to have served as an Army officer myself, and I only hope I have as much impact on as many lives as he did one day. With his passing, I also can't help but feel like a piece of my youth has gone....many condolences to his family.
Omps Funeral Home left a message:
Please accept our deepest condolences for your family's loss.
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