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BBQ master and philanthropist Alton Porter dies

Post by Kathleen Merryman / The News Tribune on June 29, 2012 at 2:14 pm with 20 Comments »
June 29, 2012 2:17 pm

Alton Porter, owner of Porter’s Place Southern Cuisine & BBQ, has died.

Porter was legendary in Tacoma for his Southern style barbecue, and for his great heart.

Thursday morning, it was his heart that failed him. At about 8 a.m., he died of an apparent heart attack in the office of his restaurant at 5026 South Tacoma Way.

Over the family’s 14 years in the restaurant and catering business, Alton Porter made them community leaders in charity. They cooked Emergency Food Network’s free community Thanksgiving turkey feast. They supported Phoenix Housing Network, Tacoma Rescue Mission and the African-American Summit for Jesuit high schools. They cooked for celebrity sports fundraisers and volunteered with their church.

Born in Renton, Porter started his restaurant on Tacoma’s East Side on Portland Avenue, moved it to the Dome District, then settled in on South Tacoma Way. Moving costs to the newest, and well-reviewed, restaurant were high, said his daughter, Elizabeth, 19. The family invested everything in it, she said.

“My father didn’t have any life insurance,” she said.

The family, she said, cannot afford a memorial service. They are deciding whether they can continue to operate the restaurant. The restaurant will reopen Tuesday, at the soonest, and the catering business will meet its contracts.

We are speaking with family members and Alton Porter’s many admirers and will update this post, and have a fuller story in my Saturday column.

Leave a comment Comments → 20
  1. notimetobleed says:

    Rest in Peace Alton.
    You will be missed.

  2. GlockMeister says:

    Alton’s food kick butt. I would go regular. Too bad all the people he help cannot help him have a memorial service. TACOMA…step up.
    Community Leaders….step up

  3. royboy361 says:

    I hope the family can find a way to keep the restaurant going.

  4. shanmatt72 says:

    RIP, and terrible news about the insurance and restaraunt. So sorry

  5. talealopez says:

    I am so sorry to hear this, Mr. Porter was a great man, ALWAYS that huge smile on his face. I saw him about a month ago pumping gas, yes, with that big smile even in the rain…
    I truly hope the family can continue his legacy, and I would love to know where we can donate money to his family.
    He will be very missed!

  6. Zmonster06 says:

    No !!! Not Porter.

  7. lonergan says:

    As soon as the Porter family announces a fund for Alton’s memorial, I’ll make a contribution, and I’m sure others will too.

  8. LeePHill says:

    I’ll never forget the day I spent with Porter – lunch at his dad’s place in Bellevue, where I was named “T-Town” by the old man. The other great part of that day was Porter proudly giving us a tour of the Don James level at Husky Stadium. He had catered up there and loved to share his connection.

    RIP, friend.

  9. infotainment says:

    This is such sad news. We love eating at Porter’s, and always enjoy the family atmosphere there. All the best to Mr. Porter’s family, and I hope they are able to hold a memorial of some kind and keep the business going.

  10. My thoughts and prayers to the Porter Family. Alton introduced me to “The Man” and I always savored the taste of true barbecue, Porter Style. God Bless You All.

  11. marilynofsd says:

    Was Mr. Porter a veteran?

  12. TheLantern says:

    I met “The Man”. Thank you Mr. Porter.

  13. Ernman21 says:

    I am proud to say Porter is a friend ……not was. He has been giving all of his life and it’s time Tacoma gave back to him! I would be happy to be the first just tell me when and where.

  14. RidingintheRain says:

    A loving, and giving man. He will be much missed in the community. Prayers for the family.

  15. MrCarleone says:

    Porter’s was on my To-Do-List !

    Just let us know When and Where ?

  16. imyourgalfriday says:

    I went to high school with Alton and our classmates ARE setting up a memorial fund… will post where and how…
    Godspeed Alton.

  17. BlaineCGarver says:

    I hope his family can keep the place going. It would be a terrible loss to this area. When they re-open, let’s make it a point to go often, ok?

  18. SandHills says:

    How old was he? Usual info for an article about the death of someone.

  19. jfdesigns says:


    A special fund is being set up to assist with funeral costs and to provide needed support for Alton’s wife Patrice and their five children. The Porter family, gratefuly thanks you for your much needed and generous support.

    Porter’s Place has generously given to the community, we pray that the community will respond with equal generousity and offer their financial support for this wonderful family.

  20. imyourgalfriday says:

    Alton was only 45 to whomever asked.
    A memorial fund has been set up through any of these three banks: Columbia, Key Bank or Harbor Stone Credit Union (any location).The fund name is Alton G. Porter “The Man” Memorial Fund.

    Thanks to those who expressed an interest.

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