Albert Sylvester Porter, Jr., retired Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, passed away at his home in the Beverly neighborhood on Tuesday, January 5, at age 90.
Judge Porter was born in Laurel, Mississippi, on December 15, 1930.
Porter’s father, Albert Sr., made his way north to Chicago, and later sent for his wife and 3-year-old son Al Jr. Porter spent his life on the South Side of Chicago, and attended the city’s public schools. He was a graduate of Wendell Phillips High School, class of 1948.
In 1955, he received his Bachelor of Arts Degree, with a major in Chemistry and a minor in Mathematics from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.
His first post-college job was working as a Metallurgist at Argonne National Laboratory. He later taught chemistry and math at Phillips High School. It was there he met his bride-to-be, fellow science teacher, Mildred Viola Birge who he married in 1959.
While still teaching full time, Porter attended law school at night. He received his Juris Doctorate Degree from John Marshall Law School in 1962, and that same year passed the Illinois State Bar exam. Thus began Porter’s long and illustrious legal and judicial career.
He became an adjunct professor at John Marshall Law School. He worked as a Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney and served as a Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Investigation. He was a partner in the law firm Walton, Freeman & Porter.
Drawn to grassroots politics, Porter became a precinct captain and was mentored by Democratic 21st Ward Committeeman Joseph Robichaux.
In 1969, Porter was appointed to a vacant position as a Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, and the following year he was elected to that position. He served on the Circuit Court of Cook County for 20 years, in the Criminal, Divorce, Chancery, and Law divisions.
In 1988, Judge Porter was a founding member and incorporator of the Illinois Judicial Council; he served as its Chairperson from 1989 to 1990. From 1991 to 1996, he was a Review Board Member for the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois.
His professional memberships included the National Bar Association, as well as the Cook County Bar Association, which honored him with the Special Judicial Award in both 1971 and 1980, and as the 1983 Judge of the Year.
Upon his retirement from the judiciary in 1990, Porter went into private practice under the banner of Martin, Duckworth & Porter, P.C.
Porter worked as Deputy Chief Attorney for the Forest Preserve of Cook County from 1999 to 2005. Afterward, he engaged in mediations and arbitrations in Chicago until he was nearly 80 years old. A highlight of this period in his career included serving from 2007 to 2009 as Chair of the Board of Elections, State of Illinois, which he joined as a member in 2000 through the efforts of Senator Emil Jones, Jr., President of the Illinois Senate.
In 2006, the University of Chicago’s Institute for Athletics and Education honored Porter with its Silver Service Award for Outstanding Achievement in Community Service.
In 2007, he was inducted into the Cook County Bar Association Hall of Fame and the Wendell Phillips High School Hall of Fame.
He was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated (Tau Chapter, 1954), and numerous clubs, including The Merrymakers, The Mules, The Carrafellas, and The Frogs. He was a member of St. Mark United Methodist Church, where he served a term as the Lay Leader.
Porter also served as a Board Member of The Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
When working with the law became too black and white, Porter turned to his paintbrushes and canvases.
He was noted for his vibrant still life and landscape paintings.
An avid gardener, Porter won front-page praise from the Beverly Area Planning Association for the gardening and landscaping of his home in the Beverly community. He was known for the planning of his garden, designing with pencil and paper in hand, calculating the maximum growth of each plant, its watering requirements and the distance it should be planted from the next plant.
Among other hobbies he was a serious student of the game of chess, and an avid golfer.
Remembered as a genial, big-hearted and generous man, Judge Porter was known for hospitality and his habit of adopting numerous individuals into the Porter clan. He left an indelible mark on his community, friends and family.
Judge Porter is survived by his wife Mildred Viola Porter; daughter Alvita Monique Lindsay; son Darryl Craig Porter; son Richard Keith Porter and daughter Kimberly Joi Fluellen.