WASHINGTON PARK — With family members spanning several generations standing beside her, Bonita Porter’s journey to honor her grandfather and her father ended Saturday with a snip of a pair of scissors.
Residents of the Washington Park community in unincorporated Broward County joined friends and members of the Porter family for the formal ceremony naming Northwest Eighth Road as Porter Road.
Porter Road begins at Northwest 31st Avenue to the west and extends east then curves south and ends at Northwest Eighth Street. The name honors Wilbur Porter Sr. and Wilbur “Sunny” Porter Jr.
“We are living the legacy of my grandfather and my daddy,” Porter said. Porter said it took her 10 years to complete the naming process but was unable to finish it before her father died. She said after her appeals to the county government went nowhere, she called on an old family friend for assistance, H. Wayne Huizenga. “I asked him to write a letter of support for me,” Porter said. Days later, the county approved her proposal to have the Porter name on the road. “My trials and tribulations were done,” Porter said. “I ended up with four signs. I only wanted one.”
The street name was changed in 2012 but because Bonita Porter, 58, was ailing at the time, the formal ribbon cutting ceremony was put on hold. It finally took place at Lafayette-Hart Park, 2851 Porter Road.
Three of the elder Porter’s daughters – Ruth Porter, Claudia Porter and Myrtle Porter-Currington – spoke about him and their brother and reflected about living in a time when much of Broward County was rural and dedicated to farming.
“This is going to enlighten people,” Porter-Currington, 76, said of the ceremony. “This will explain why this honor is important.” Wilbur Porter Sr. was born in Richland, Ga., in 1907 and came to the Fort Lauderdale area by hitching rides on trains. He settled with his wife Anna Mae Porter in what is now known as Washington Park in 1932. At the time, the area was undeveloped and Porter was the only property owner.
By the time Porter died in 1997, he not only worked for the Broward Sherriff’s Office but also started several businesses, including a horse-riding school. In 1949, he launched Porter’s Rubbish and Landscaping Service which included a trash pick-up service and a nursery.
Bonita Porter said her grandfather had one of the largest trash routes in the area, including Sunrise and the black communities in northwest Fort Lauderdale.
Huizenga, who came into the area to build his business, was persistent in trying to obtain the trash routes the Porters controlled, Bonita Porter said.
“[Huizenga] would come to his house and speak to my grandfather,” Bonita Porter said. Her grandfather would tell him to ‘get out of here,’” she said.
Eventually, the family sold three garbage trucks and garbage routes in Sunrise to Huizenga but kept the trash routes in the black neighborhoods.
Huizenga went on to purchase other garbage trucks and routes in the area and built his multi-million-dollar Waste Management garbage removal business.
Wilbur “Sunny” Porter Jr. was born in 1935 and was a star football player at Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale. He served three years in the U.S. Navy, where he learned to dive. After he left the Navy, he gave scuba diving lessons as a
licensed diving instructor. He died in 2010.
Milking cows and mending fences are nothing new for Melody Porter-Cone. She said her grandfather, Wilbur Porter Sr., taught her valuable life lessons and gave her a love for horse riding that she still has today.
“My grandfather passed on to me a hard-work ethic,” she added.
“He taught me how to scuba dive and fly fish,” said Daryl Porter, grandson of Wilbur Porter Jr. Darryl Porter starred in football at St. Thomas Aquinas and played five seasons in the National Football League with the Detroit Lions, the Buffalo Bills and the Tennessee Titans. “I am an outdoorsman because of him.”
At the ceremony, letters of congratulations were read from Congressman Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, and Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler. Friends of the Porters said they were proud of the recognition the family was receiving. “We have had a long association with the family,” said Collin Forman, 61. He said his grandfather, Hamilton McClure Forman, opened the first dairy in South Florida, Forman’s Dairy, in 1914. The elder Porter and his son worked on the Forman farm in Davie which was located on land now occupied by an educational complex that includes Nova Southeastern University, Nova Blanche Forman Elementary, Nova Eisenhower Elementary, Nova Middle and Nova High school campuses. “They were hard-working and smart,” Forman said. “They are people you can be proud of.” After the official ceremony at the park, attendees walked to the two Porter homes at the end of the street, where the ribbon cutting ceremony took place. The Porters still own the first two homes at the beginning of the road, where Porter and his son lived.