Linsey Porter, longtime Highland Park mayor, dies at 65

Payne Lubbers
The Detroit News
Linsey Porter

Linsey Porter never gave up on his hometown of Highland Park, in spite of the difficulties the city faced.

"I've always had a dream that everyone in Highland Park would have a nice car in their driveway and a beautiful home," the former mayor told The Detroit News in 2003. 

Mr. Porter died Tuesday, June 18, 2019, from complications of pneumonia, his family said. He was 65. 

He was the city's youngest mayor. In his three terms, from 1992 to 2004, Mr. Porter led Highland Park through a troubled period in its history. Mr. Porter inherited many of the city's problems, such as crime, urban flight and business relocation. The city's troubles foreshadowed problems for the city of Detroit.

"Lawmakers don't listen to communities like Highland Park, Ecorse or Hamtramck. We have become a lower-class community," Porter said in 2002. "They look at us as the community for the lower class. There's an upper class and a lower class. It seems like there are some people who want to keep us second-class citizens."

Notable was the relocation of Chrysler's corporate headquarters from its founding location in Highland Park to nearby Auburn Hills in 1991 before Porter's first year in office.

But Porter kept working to save his struggling hometown. In 2000, communications company Budco opened a $30 million headquarters in Highland Park and became the city's largest employer. He also spearheaded the creation of the Oakland Industrial Park at the former home of the Chrysler Corp. 

He was a native of Highland Park and was born in 1953. Mr. Porter graduated from Palo Verde College in Blythe, California, in 1976, where he was a standout baseball player. He entered Highland Park politics in 1979, and was elected to the City Council in 1983 before serving as president of the council in 1987.

Mr. Porter remained active in the community after leaving office by helping his wife, Patricia Reid-Porter, run two adult foster care centers. He still was an active baseball player, his sister-in-law, Elna Reid, said.

Recently, Mr. Porter had been working as a public speaker and recently was nominated to serve as president of the local Toastmasters chapter, Reid said.

"Each day I live is precious to me — nobody has promised me that I will wake up tomorrow," Porter wrote on his profile for Toastmasters, a nonprofit educational organization. "I can't change my past but I can chart my future."

His wife recalled: "He was dearly loved by so many. Linsey never met a stranger. He believed in humanity and that we are all connected. When he spoke to the people, they would listen."  

In addition to his wife, Mr. Porter is survived a daughter, Nikki Suber; and siblings Brenda Stanley, Malvin Porter, Dwight Porter and Dennis Porter.

Visitation continues at 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, with family hour from 5-8 p.m. at C.W. Morris-J.W. Henry Funeral Home Inc., 12700 Hamilton Ave., in Highland Park.

A funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at Soul Harvest Ministries' John R Cathedral, 16299 John R in Highland Park. 

A funeral procession with a horse-drawn carriage is expected to start between 1 p.m and 1:15 p.m., heading south on Woodward, starting at Ferris Street and ending at Tennyson, at which point a hearse will travel to Elmwood Cemetery in Detroit.