This hero of our story is named George Donald Porter. He attended George Washington High School and City College of San Francisco. He married Mildred Lee in 1951 and three children were born of their union. George entered the Armed Services in 1952 and served as a communications center specialist during the Korean conflict.

He was honorably discharged in 1956 and returned home to San Francisco and became one of a generation of young men to successfully integrate jobs previously unattainable by African American men. He dedicated his career to the International Longshoreman’s Workers Union, Local 34. George Porter did his job, day in and day out, as a longshore walking boss and shipping clerk for American President Lines until forced into early retirement by illness and disability.

When she was 5 years old living in public housing on 27 Dakota St. on Potrero Hill, Porter’s daughter harbors memories of him arriving home from work in the evening in an old Buick, license plate BYN 499. He strolled up the sidewalk swinging his metal lunch box – with the treat he often saved for her – wearing steel toed working boots. His daughter adored him; he was so friendly and handsome and wore a big smile.

On Valentine’s Day Feb. 14, 1992, George Donald Porter and his daughter went shopping at the neighborhood Safeway and he gave her a box of Godiva chocolates. On Feb. 19, 1992, his daughter went downstairs to check on him when he did not come up for breakfast. She found him dead.

By then, she was a doctor for the San Francisco Department of Public Health and knew the steps that needed to be taken to take care of him. She signed his death certificate but ordered his medical records just to be sure. In that medical record, she found a chest X-ray that showed signs of pulmonary asbestosis and because of that chest X-ray George Donald Porter did not die in vain. His death triggered a class action lawsuit and settlement that benefited his family and other workers.

Read entire article written by Mr Porter’s daughter, Dr Porter Sumchai here,

Death and Courage at Hunters Point Shipyard