Obituary: John Edward Porter
The Illinois congressman (1980-2001) represented the 10th congressional district
John Porter died earlier this month. He was 87 years old. He was my state representative, congressman, boss, source, advocate, mentor and friend for 44 years. I wrote about our unique relationship in an exclusive article for an online magazine.
John Porter was the son of a highly respected Cook County, Illinois judge. He was born and raised in Evanston, Illinois, near where I grew up, too, and attended Evanston Township High School. He attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Northwestern University as well as University of Michigan Law School. The 10-term congressman, who was elected after some of the nation’s most contentious, expensive and historic elections, became known for his support for government gun control and government-controlled medical and scientific research. He’s also known for supporting Israel’s right to exist, emancipating Jews from Soviet Russia and reasonable fiscal policy. He was appointed to represent the Department of Justice by President Dwight Eisenhower’s administration and he worked under Attorney General Robert Kennedy.
John Porter, an Army reservist from 1958 until 1964, supported a woman’s right to abortion, Clinton’s impeachment and an assault weapons ban. Our relationship spans six decades. I met John Porter in Evanston when I was 11 years old.
I worked or volunteered for John Porter for six years, becoming the youngest paid staffer for a congressional campaign in Illinois and, later, working at his office on Capitol Hill. As a journalist, I interviewed him for publication, covering a range of issues including his interest in Ayn Rand’s philosophy, biological and neuroscientific research funding and his thoughts on President Kennedy’s assassination. Congressman Porter invited me to attend the dedication of a National Institutes for Health (NIH) building named in his honor in 2014. The editor and publisher of a Chicago publication asked me to write about my recollections.
The personal essay, “The Last Statesman: My 44 Years with John Porter,” appears in this week’s edition of Classic Chicago. Read the article here.