Obituaries

Ralph Carlyle Porter III, 89, of Middlebury

RALPH CARLYLE PORTER III

MIDDLEBURY — Ralph Carlyle Porter III, known as Robin, died peacefully in Middlebury, Vt., on May 17, after a long, full life of perseverance, dedication to service and tradition. He spent his final years in Vermont to be near his youngest son, Dr. Will Porter, and his family. He also delighted in being close to his beloved camp Keewaydin. His grandfather was an early camper and each generation of his family since has gone and learned to “help the other fellow” and “be strong of heart.”

Born in the spring of 1933 to Eleanor Todd Marshall and Ralph Carlyle Porter Jr., whose ancestors included Revolutionary War veterans, Robin grew up in Summit, N.J. He went to Pingry School in 1945, where he was impressed by the returning World War II Veterans and enlisted in the naval reserve as a freshman at Washington and Lee University. He graduated from Rutgers University and was commissioned at Officer Candidate School in Newport in 1955.

That same year Robin married Cynthia Eagles of Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y. He became an intelligence officer in the Navy and later in the reserves volunteered twice for duty in Vietnam on the aircraft carriers Midway and Ranger. Robin entered the Foreign Service in 1961, responding to President Kennedy’s call to serve, and was posted to Port-au-Prince, Manila, Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Moscow … in time for the Nixon-Brezhnev summit in 1972. He returned to the U.S.S.R. in 1976 to lead the first U.S. diplomatic mission to Kyiv, Ukraine. Robin and Cynthia and their four children enjoyed many adventures as they traveled the world. Robin retired from the Foreign Service in 1983 after 28 years of service.

He then began a new chapter when he went to Philadelphia and earned a Masters of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1987 he arrived in Rhode Island to specialize in restoration of historic houses. It was on Block Island that he met his second wife, the Reverend Marsue Harris, then a Rhode Island penitentiary chaplain. They settled in Wickford village in a rambling historic home which they were loving stewards of for 35 years. This home was a hub for their families and community. Marsue and Robin were married by Bishop George Hunt who was a mentor and encouraged Robin to join the Republican reform movement. Robin served two terms in the Rhode Island State Senate. He was elected to the North Kingstown Town Council in 1998, 2000 and 2004. After retiring from elected politics, he became a leader in the R.I. anti-casino cause.

In later years Robin accompanied Marsue as she performed her priestly duties at various Episcopal parishes, weddings, baptisms and funerals. He spent his time reading (mostly history), writing, gardening, and walking his Westies and Scotties. He loved those dogs. Robin enjoyed singing in church choirs and with the North Kingstown Swingers who entertained nursing home residents. He assumed the role of Porter family historian and sponsored a family reunion in 2006 at Keewaydin on Lake Dunmore. Robin was a longstanding member of Rotary, VFW and instrumental in reviving HistWick (Historic Wickford). Robin was always pleased to stop and chat or drive around town in his red ’41 Ford truck and, later on, in his vintage Navy jeep.

During the last few years Robin faced considerable challenges that he met with remarkable grace, warmth and good humor.

Robin is survived by his children, Ralph Carlyle “Carl” Porter IV, Christopher Todd Porter (Wendy), Sarah Porter Bell (Kevin), William Harrison Porter (Martha), his step-children Laurisa Houseman and Nicolas Baranyk (Andrea); grandchildren Lily (Chris), Rosy, Christopher, Cooper, Vivian, Ashley, Beatrice, and Theodora; his sister-in-law Kathryn Auchincloss Porter; and many cousins, nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by both wives and his brothers, James Marshall Porter and David Stuart Porter.

Robin’s family is grateful for the loving and dedicated care he received from the staff at EastView and Addison County Home Health and Hospice. A service celebrating his life is planned for a later date in Rhode Island. In lieu of flowers please consider making a donation in Robin’s honor.◊

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