Dr. Harry P. Porter, a retired Baltimore otolaryngologist who was known as a clinician who had a warm bedside manner, died Thursday of heart failure at his Timonium home. He was 96.
The son of Harry P. Porter Sr., a teacher, and Ethel Bagley Porter, a homemaker, Harry Primrose Porter was born at home in Bel Air. His father, who taught English at Polytechnic Institute, drowned in 1935 while duck hunting on the upper Chesapeake Bay.
"My father was delivered by his grandfather, Charles Bagley Sr., a country doctor," said a daughter, Barbara Porter Carr of Timonium.
"From the time he was a young boy, he knew he wanted to be a doctor and follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, and his uncles, Charles Bagley Jr., a neurosurgeon, and Cecil Bagley, an eye surgeon at Johns Hopkins," said Ms. Carr.
After graduating from City College in 1935, Dr. Porter earned his bachelor's degree in 1939 from the Johns Hopkins University and his medical degree in 1942 from the Hopkins School of Medicine.
Dr. Porter completed a one-year internship at the old St. Joseph Hospital on Caroline Street, and during World War II served with the Army Medical Corps in France and Germany.
After being discharged at war's end with the rank of captain, Dr. Porter completed a residency in otolaryngology at Episcopal Hospital in Washington and established a private ear, nose and throat practice in 1949 in the Medical Arts Building on Read Street.
Dr. Porter was affiliated with the old Hospital for the Women of Maryland on Bolton Hill, which later merged with the Presbyterian Eye, Ear and Throat Charity Hospital to form the Greater Baltimore Medical Center in 1965.
In addition to practicing at GBMC, Dr. Porter was affiliated with Maryland General Hospital, what is now the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center, and Church Home Hospital, where he was chief of otolaryngology.
After closing his office in the Medical Arts Building, Dr. Porter moved to the Professional Building on the grounds of St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, where he continued practicing until retiring in 1983.
"I was both his patient and nephew, and for years he took care of me," said Tom Neubauer, who lives in Glen Arm.
"He took out my tonsils and treated me for multiple ear infections when I was a kid. For me, in addition to being so kind, he was an incredible doctor and just brilliant in his field," he said. "We all benefited form his expertise and care."
Dr. Porter kept long office hours.
"He'd be at St. Joe at 5:30 a.m. if you needed to be seen, and was also still making house calls. He was an old-school doctor who valued his patients, and they became an extension of his family," said Mr. Neubauer.
"Uncle Harry had a wonderful bedside manner and when he came to see you, it was always with a gentle approach, which instantly made you feel better because he was there," he said.
"I am often stopped by someone who tells me that my dad took care of a member of their family and how they remember the excellent care he provided and his gentle nature," said Ms. Carr.
"Because of his compassionate and gentle technique, treating children became his specialty and they made up the largest and favorite part of his patient population," she said.
Dr. Porter had chaired the medical board of Bonnie Blink, the Maryland Masonic Home in Hunt Valley.
"He was a devoted family man and was also devoted to his medical practice and his patients. Everyone who knew him, loved him," recalled Mr. Neubauer.
In 1945, while on leave from the Army, Dr. Porter met his future wife, the former Elaine Neubauer, whom he married six months later in 1946.
The couple purchased her childhood home on Cedarcroft Road in Homeland, where they raised their three children.
In his retirement, Dr. Porter enjoyed pursuing his interests in photography, travel, and cultivating roses. He was also interested in genealogical research, which took the couple to England, France, Scotland, Austria and Germany.
He also liked working on his computer, where "he continued to stay with the times," said Ms. Carr.
Dr. Porter and his wife enjoyed sailing the Chesapeake Bay aboard their 27-foot sailboat, Star of the Sea, which they kept at Gibson Island.
Mrs. Porter, a homemaker and award-winning quilter, died last year.
Dr. Porter was a gifted conversationalist, storyteller and master punster, his daughter said.
He was a Master Mason and was past master of Baltimore Lodge 210, the Scottish Rite, and the Boumi Temple. He also had been fleet surgeon for the Boumi Temple Yacht Club.
He was a former president of the Maryland Ski Club and the Maryland Association of Parliamentarians, and a member of the Eastern Shore Society.
Dr. Porter had been a communicant and had served on the vestry of St. Michaels and All Angels Episcopal Church in downtown Baltimore.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Holy Comforter Episcopal Church, Bellona and Seminary avenues, Lutherville.
In addition to Ms. Carr, Dr. Porter is survived by a son, Richard Alan Porter of Guilford, Conn.; another daughter, Carolyn Porter Adkins of Lancaster, Pa.; nine grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun