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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood? Generations

Barry Porter and Family: A Century of Loving Wyoming

By Cynthia Smith

Mayor Barry Porter’s roots go way back-to the early 1900s, when his parents’ families arrived in Wyoming. Clarence Porter and Marjorie Dewey were sweethearts at Wyoming High School (WHS). They graduated in 1929, married in 1935, and brought forth Barry in 1937. 

The Wyoming Porters at Barry Porter Field… front, sitting from left: Piper, Paige, and Porter Little; kneeling behind: Holly and David Little; standing first row: Paul, Lauren, and Katherine Rutherford, Susan Porter, Debbie Porter holding Pepper, and Jordan Riggs; standing back row: Todd and Bari Rutherford, Barry Porter, and Joe Porter holding Bear Porter.
At first, the family, which came to include Barry’s sister Barbara (now Barbara Porter Marty, married to Terry), lived in an apartment on the corner of Burns and Wentworth. Later, they lived in two other houses on Wentworth. 

Barry got his Wyoming schooling in the same building where his parents graduated high school (today we call it the Wyoming Middle School). After earning a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Denison University, Barry joined the Air Force, serving for five years as a Supply Officer, mostly in Aviano, Italy. 

After that, he moved into the Williamsburg Apartments, and took a job at Sawbrook Steel in Lockland, where Clarence was CEO. 

Love at First Sight

Seven years later, Barry met Susan, his wife of 47 years, who had moved to Ft. Mitchell, Kentucky. They met on a blind date arranged by mutual friend MaryAnn Gallent, who lived near Barry and often used Susan as a fashion model at McAlpin’s. Susan tells the short story: “MaryAnn said, ‘Susie, I found your husband.’” After one date, Susan agreed with her.

“I was still living in my parents’ house,” she adds. “I went to UC briefly, then the Art Academy and the Central Academy of Commercial Arts.”

Barry and Susan married in 1971, living first on Poage Farm, then buying their current home on Oliver in 1976. 

Three children ensued: First Bari, then twins Holly and Joseph. Following in their parents’ footsteps (Barry played basketball, football, and baseball at WHS; Susan was an ace golfer), all were athletes. Bari and Holly played basketball and soccer; Joseph, football and basketball. Holly got a basketball scholarship to Boston College; Bari played basketball at Yale.

 “We loved all the sporting events,” Barry reminisces, “which involved a lot of travel.” He and Susan traveled with the kids’ teams, particularly for Bari and Holly’s AAU tournaments in the summer.  
Barry also made a 32-mile daily commute for work after leaving Sawbrook to join Ohio Casualty Insurance in Hamilton in 1973. Susan raised the children, took care of the home and the pets, and volunteered - at the schools and for Kindervelt. 

City Council

In 1984, Barry was asked to bring his financial acumen to Wyoming’s City Council. Becoming mayor in 2007, he still enjoys the job, but not the need to campaign every two years. “I’ve mounted 17 campaigns,” he sighs. 

Even though Barry and Susan have had a summer place near Traverse City, Michigan, since 2011, they return monthly to Wyoming for Council meetings.

Explaining why, Barry says, “Wyoming has been good to me, and Council is a way to give back to the community. I got a great education here, and it is where I have found a very comfortable quality of life.

“People are so caring. When I played sports as a kid, everyone was so supportive; anything you did, they supported. I still see it today on Council. The City can find a volunteer for any help it needs.”

Susan and Barry Porter, pictured here with dogs Sandy (left) and Putter

The Kids Come Back; the Retirees Stay

“When I traveled in the military and for business, I was reminded of what great places Cincinnati and Wyoming were,” Barry adds. “Friends I grew up with are still here. There were 64 people in my WHS graduating class; 15 or so still live nearby. 

“You see how unique Wyoming is by the number of kids who come back after they go to college and start careers and families. Even when people become empty-nesters, they stay.” 

Today, all of Barry and Susan’s children live in Wyoming with children of their own attending Wyoming schools. 

The Porter grands, from Easter Bunny left: Pepper (with smile purse), Porter, and Katherine, with Paul in back; from Easter Bunny right: Bear (in hat), Piper, Lauren (holding Scout), Paige (in dots). Not shown: Jordan Riggs.


“I’ve seen some changes,” Barry notes, “but not many. The biggest change is demographics. People used to come in so their children could go to Wyoming High School; now they come in for kindergarten. There is a broader spectrum of activities than there used to be.”

His proudest Wyoming moment was Otto Warmbier’s funeral in 2017. “The city and community handled it beautifully. Everyone’s concern was for the Warmbiers.

“We are fortunate with the current City administration. The leadership is exceptional. They care about the community and put it first.”

Over 34 years, Barry has seen many people come through Council. “Most people really care, put the City first, and stay as volunteers for a long time,” he has found. “Others carry an agenda and try to make quick changes, but when they learn they can’t do everything they wanted, become short-termers. 

“Over time, I think Council has been consistent in trying to keep the quality of life we enjoy in Wyoming. We have been pretty successful.”

Barry Porter Field

To honor his decades of service and extensive work getting a turf field at the Rec Center for football and lacrosse in 2015, Wyoming named the new field after Barry. It was a surprise to Barry and Susan; the kids knew. “I came unglued,” laughs Susan, remembering when she realized, while out walking the dogs at the Rec Center, that the new scoreboard had ‘Barry Porter Field’ at the top. “Barry didn’t know until the dedication at a lacrosse picnic the next day.”

Eleven Dogs

Susan grew up on a farm with lots of animals, and the Porters have always had pets. “We used to only have two dogs and a few cats at a time, per Wyoming regulation,” she explains. “But then in 2016 a little girl came to Council and argued it was a silly law. Now we have three dogs.”

Over the years, they have had 11 dogs, mostly rescues. “Susan knows every dog and every dog owner in Wyoming,” Barry jokes, “because she is always out walking them.”

While the couple used to rent pet-friendly homes in Michigan, purchasing a family vacation home seemed a better solution. Now three generations of Porters - with pets - gather regularly, celebrating their blessings and the joys of Wyoming living.  

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