William Gerald Porter

Published 8:53 am Tuesday, January 23, 2018

William Gerald Porter


William Gerald Porter, foremost a beloved and steadfast father and grandfather, but also a quietly accomplished entrepreneur and investor, died peacefully in his Mt. Washington home after a long illness on Friday, January 19, 2018. Gerald, as he was known by name in Kentucky, was born into humble beginnings on a hillside farm in Casey County, Kentucky on January 9, 1938, as the middle son of William A. Porter and Livona Morgan Porter. 

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After demonstrating a level of intellect advanced beyond his age, Gerald skipped two years of grade school and rode his ambition out of Casey County, first to the Marine Corps for a brief enlistment, then off to International Harvester in Indianapolis. Soon after joining IH, management recognized Gerald’s business acumen by sponsoring his attendance at Indiana Central College (now the University of Indianapolis), where he earned a B.S in Accounting by taking classes at night and studying until 2 a.m. while working full time during the day over the course of four years. Gerald (who was nicknamed “Bill” at IH) continued to rapidly climb the corporate ladder, being the youngest person to be promoted to general management in IH history at that time. After passing the CPA exam in 1969, he earned a series of new promotions, eventually reaching corporate headquarters in Chicago where IH sent him to the MBA program at the University of Chicago.

In 1977, after 20 years with IH, Gerald moved back to Kentucky to pursue his lifelong dream of owning his own company and purchased the distressed operations of Monarch Hardware and Manufacturing in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. After turning the company’s fortunes around and creating many jobs in Bullitt County, Gerald sold the company in 1982 to Newman Tonks of Birmingham, England. Newman Tonks used the Monarch acquisition as their beachhead, and Gerald as their figurative General to acquire several other architectural hardware companies throughout the United States. Gerald served as President of Newman Tonks, USA until it was acquired by Ingersoll Rand in 1997.

Becoming characteristically restless and in need of a new challenge, Gerald, along with his brother Chester, turned their attention to the banking industry and began acquiring community banks around Kentucky. Together they successfully grew each of those banking institutions, creating many more jobs throughout the state over the following decades. Over 35 years, Gerald served on the Board of Directors of the Peoples Bank of Taylorsville, The Bullitt County Bank, The Brownsville State Bank and PBI Bancorp. Gerald was also a Free Mason and a member of Capital City Lodge No. 312 in Indianapolis, Indiana

As impressive a businessman Gerald was, he was an even more important example of decency and kindness who would lend a helping hand to those struggling in their life. Any employee demonstrating a willingness to help themselves could go to Gerald and ask for help in times of need. Many young men and women launched their own successful careers with Gerald willing to give them the opportunity to prove themselves. Gerald served as a mentor, advisor, and sounding board to many employees and fellow business owners in Bullitt and Spencer counties while enriching their lives with his generosity and unique brand of witty humor. Some consider Gerald the king of one liners.

His pride and joy were his children and grandchildren, who he prioritized above all else. Always balancing the risk of making us soft against his burning desire to make our lives easier than his parents could for him, his unconditional love for his family and unwavering support of our respectively chosen life pursuits made our lives far easier than he ever had himself. We could never say thank you enough.

Other than running several businesses at any given time, Gerald’s passions were horse racing, stock market investing and frequently hosting small gatherings of friends and family for hearty steak dinners or Sunday brunches filled with laughter sitting around the 100-year-old oak table that was placed at the center of his kitchen for almost 50 years. As complicated as his business life seemed, he preferred to keep his personal life as simple and humble as possible. His family and friends and the little things in life made him happiest.

The family would like to thank Helping Hands for making our father’s daily life as easy as they could for almost two years, specifically Mona, Maria, Debbie, Kent and Angie.

Gerald is survived by his son, William Brian (Nancy); his daughter, Kelly Porter Coffey of Danville, Kentucky; grandchildren, Lauren Willett (Mitchell) of Lake Elmo, Minnesota, Lindsay Porter of Louisville, William Addison Coffey and Bennett Coffey of Danville, Kentucky; and step grandchildren, Jesse Kuchinski and Joleen Kuchinski of Minnesota; two brothers, Kenneth Porter of Mt. Washington and Leonard Porter (Nancy) of Liberty, Kentucky; and sister in-law, Betty Porter. 

He was preceded in death by his parents, and his twin brothers, Chester Porter and Lester Porter.

Funeral services will be held on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at McFarland-Troutman-Proffitt Funeral Home in Mt. Washington. Friends may visit from 3:30 p.m. until time of service on Thursday.

In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy can be made with contributions to Salvation Army, American Lung Association, Alzheimer’s Association or the charity of your choice in memory of our father and grandfather.