Born November 21, 1924 in Brooklyn, New York, Bill served in the U.S. Navy as an Aviation Machinist Mate during WW II and was owner and operator of Porter's Tree Service in Rumson, New Jersey before joining the NJ Shade Tree Federation.
He was a very influential individual and has made many contributions to the tree industry through his involvement in a number of tree organizations. He served as Vice President, Bureau of Tree Experts in the NJ Department of Environmental Protection. He was an original member of the Committee for the Advancement of Arboriculture (CAA) established in 1990 as well as original member of the Community Forestry Council which was established through the passing of the New Jersey Community Forestry Assistance Act in 1996. He was Past President of the New Jersey Arborists Association, a founding trustee and Vice President of the NJ Tree Foundation, a member of the Monmouth County Shade Tree Commission, Past President and Director of the NJ Shade Tree Federation and Executive Director of the NJ Shade Tree Federation for 27 years until his retirement in 2007.
Bill was also Past President of the New Jersey Society of Certified Tree Experts. As one of the first Certified Tree Experts in the State (CTE # 100), he continually volunteered his time judging State Tree Climbing Championships and assisted in administering the CTE exam. He also served on the National Committee that created the award winning Street Tree Fact sheets. He was also a Master Arborist.
Bill has authored a number of articles in The Shade Tree, a bi-monthly newsletter of the NJ Shade Tree Federation and has contributed to the text of Urban and Community Forestry in the Northeast, edited Trees for NJ Streets, a NJ Shade Tree Federation publication, and published Professional Consultations to Help Avoid Legal Problems of Shade Tree Commissions, in the Journal of Arboriculture.
He has received a number of recognition awards which included The Joyce Kilmer Award and the NJ Shade Tree Federation Award of Appreciation. He has been recognized by a number of organizations including the NJ Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture for his many years of dedicated service to the arboricultural community. Under his direction, the NJ Shade Tree Federation received recognition from the International Society of Arboriculture upon the presentation of the Gold Leaf Award in 1993.
Additional recognitions include Arborist of the Year presented by the NJ Arborists Association in 1964 and again Arborist of the Year presented this time by the NJ Society of Certified Tree Experts in 1972. He has received an Award of Appreciation from the following organizations: the NJ School of Arboriculture, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, the NJ Arborists Association, the NJ Shade Tree Federation and the NJ Society of Certified Tree Experts. He has been the recipient of the Green Community Award presented by the NJ Community Forestry Program and the Arbor Day Award presented by the Township of East Brunswick. Clearly his talents had been recognized by a number of organizations throughout the State of New Jersey.
Upon his retirement in 2007 he was recognized for his service to the NJ Shade Tree Federation and the successful completion of 27 Annual Conferences. Under his direction, the attendance at the Annual Conferences increased from 268 in 1980 to the over 600 attendees we host today.
In 2008, the Executive Board of the NJ Shade Tree Federation recognized Bill's continued efforts to build a solid foundation upon which the Federation continues to grow to this very day and renamed the "NJ Shade Tree Federation Award of Appreciation" the "William J. Porter Award of Appreciation." Bill personally presented the award which was newly named in his honor at the NJ Shade Tree Federation's 83rd Annual Conference. It was a proud moment for him.
Bill was a dedicated individual whose efforts are reflected in the strength of the tree industry of today. He was a mentor to many tree professionals and an influential leader who left a lasting impression on those with whom he came in contact. He left an impact on the lives of many individuals. He left something behind that will benefit others. He left a legacy. To quote an elderly Wellesley College alumna, "you drink from wells you didn't dig."
Memorial Bench Dedication and Tree Planting
To celebrate Bill Porter's life and to honor and recognize his contributions to the NJ Shade Tree Federation and the tree industry itself, a tree planting and memorial bench dedication was held on May 11th, 2013, at the Cook Campus of Rutgers University, directly across the street from Blake Hall, where Bill had spent so many years directing the activities of the NJ Shade Tree Federation.
A huge THANK YOU to Larry Kuser of Fernbrook Farms, a long time friend and colleague of Bill's, for donating a Wildfire Nyssa sylvatica in Bill's memory.
In Larry's words:
“This tree being planted in memory of Bill Porter it is called a Black Gum, also known as Black Tupelo, or Sour Gum. It is native to NJ. It can grow 50 to 80 feet tall with a spread of 30 feet. Considered to be one of our more beautiful native trees, this particular tree is a special selection of Black Gum called 'Wildfire'. The name derives from the fact that the new growth leaves are bright red, turning to lustrous dark green in the summer with beautiful fall color of yellow red and purple hues.”
“I think the name 'Wildfire' is appropriate for Bill. Like a wild fire, he had a passion and a zeal for his work. Like a wild fire he spread out all over the state, planting trees, inciting fire in other folks to spread the idea that trees are important and are one of our most valuable resources. I dare say, he probably had to put out many 'fires' in the course of his work. political and bureaucratic. Each of you may have an idea of how the name Wild Fire can apply to Bill, so may he long be remembered for all those attributes.”
Attendees were each presented with a wind chime memento inscribed with Bill's name and lifespan.