Charles Porter, RIP
A long-time community activist in the Golden Gate neighborhood of North Oakland passed away on Jan. 12, 2013. Born in Arkansas, Charles Porter came to Oakland in 1946, when his family moved to the house where his mother still resides.
Porter was one of the early employees of BART. He test drove cars, tested control systems before it opened in 1972, continued in Operations performing one job after another, and rose to the rank of Assistant Director before health problems forced him to retire.
Kidney failure introduced Charles to new challenges which he responded to with the same “can-do” resolve that made his career at BART so successful. He managed his health care brilliantly through two kidney transplants with the normal relapses and complications. Yet, most of his friends and colleagues barely noticed that he was dealing with this long-term affliction. In terms of attitude, he was life and future oriented; his health problems were simply a distraction that he dealt with when the need arose, without complaint or self-pity.
After his retirement, Porter dedicated his energy to bettering his neighborhood and the city of Oakland. He became active in the San Pablo and Golden Gate Improvement Association (SPAGGIA) - the area's community and merchant association. When community policing was being rolled out during the early 1990s, Charles was a founder and leader of the Golden Gate Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council (Beat 10X). Later, he and others took on the task of revitalizing the San Pablo Corridor. He also helped to engineer the expansion of the Broadway MacArthur Redevelopment Area to include the Lowell Street and the Golden Gate neighborhood, and played a vital role in its' operations. For good reason, Porter was affectionately referred to by some as the "Mayor of Golden Gate/San Pablo."
Charles also served on Oakland’s Community Policing Advisory Board from 2002 to 2008. He built on his experience serving the Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council to help roll out community policing to the rest of Oakland. His incisive intellect, wisdom and resolve were often the factors that determined the Board’s decisions and initiatives.
Porter is predeceased by his father George Porter, sister Annie Foster and daughter Tiffany Donaville. He leaves behind his partner of many years Colleen Brown, his beloved mother Della Porter of Oakland, daughter Candace Porter, granddaughter Ariana Donaville, nephew Clarence Malone, Jr. and countless friends and relatives.
Friends are invited to Charles Porter's memorial service - on Friday, Jan. 25 at Chapel of the Chimes - 4499 Piedmont Avenue in Oakland. Service starts at 1 p.m.