Retired Circuit Judge Kenneth Porter, 86, of the Fourth Judicial District, died Monday, April 5 at his home in Newport. Porter served as Circuit Judge from 1974 until 1993.
Porter earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and obtained his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law. He served as a delegate to the Southeastern Law Review and editor-in-chief of the Tennessee Law Review, and then was named Outstanding Law Graduate by Phi Delta Pi legal fraternity and was awarded the Order of the Coif.
During the 82nd and 83rd General Assemblies, Porter served as a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives; and in 1972, he returned to Capitol Hill to serve as a member of the Senate during the 88th General Assembly, representing Cocke, Grainger, Hamblen, Jefferson, Union and part of Claiborne counties. He held the distinction of being the first Republican to have an office assistant and the first Republican to have a telephone in his Nashville office.
Fellow retired Circuit Court Judge Ben Hooper said Porter had a favorite term for those he respected, calling them “a truly great American.”
Hooper said that description also is applicable to Porter.
“His many accomplishments were unbelievable, and they don’t come any smarter. He was a friend indeed.”
The judge had medical issues in recent years, but Hooper says it was his recent falls that led to his death.
He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Janet R. Porter, daughter Janie C, Porter, son James Kenneth Porter Jr, and Paula King; grandchildren James Kenneth (Trey) Porter, Katie (Michael) Porter Fischer; mother of the grandchildren, Kathy L. Porter; and several nieces and nephews.
Private family graveside services will be held in Union Cemetery.