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BREAKING NEWS: Effective October 23, 2023, Harry William Porterfield, Jr. has accepted a final assignment at WHEVN-TV. While Porterfield was not available for comment, those closest to him report he was at peace with the transition.
Porterfield Jr. was born August 29, 1928, in Saginaw, Michigan to Harry and Viola Porterfield. He finished Arthur Hill High School in 1946. He earned his Associate of Science degree from Bay City Community College before enrolling in the University of Michigan for 1 year. He was drafted to the Army in 1949 and served in Germany for 2 years as a Sergeant. After his discharge from the Army, he enrolled at Eastern Michigan University where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry in 1954. Harry also joined Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated while at Eastern Michigan.
While eager to begin a career in Chemistry, a lack of job opportunities pushed him back to his passion for music. He started as a disc jockey, producer, and commercial writer at WKNX in Saginaw. In 1964, Harry begin what would become a decades long career in broadcast Journalism at CBS WBBM-TV Ch. 2 in Chicago. In the early days, he worked as a producer, writer, and general assignment reporter. In 1972, recognizing his smooth voice and camera presence, he moved to the anchor desk, making him among the first African Americans in Chicago in this role. In 1977, he began his most popular series "Someone You Should Know" where over the course of his career highlighted the accomplishments of thousands of unrecognized, but extraordinary people within the greater Chicagoland community.
Harry worked as an anchor for CBS until 1985 when a decision was made to remove him from the anchor desk. This triggered boycotts from the community and changed broadcast news in Chicago. Harry joined WLS channel 7 ABC news in 1985. Over the next 24 years he was a strong part of the team that produced the top-rated news programs. He stayed at WLS until 2009 when he returned to CBS to finish his illustrious career in 2015. Throughout his 51 year career in Chicago journalism, harry won 11 Emmys, a Stud Terkel Award, Columbia DuPont Journalism Award in addition to receiving countless other recognitions. Harry was also inducted into the Silver Circle of the Chicago chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 1988.
Harry was a confirmed bachelor until in 1968. He met the love of his life Marianita and her children, Eric and Gina. They married that year and JJ and Allison joined the family over the next few years. Harry was a devoted father and proud of the accomplishments of all his children. He was equally as proud of his granddaughter Amanda who followed him into the field of broadcast journalism and his great-grandson Christian who learned to play the violin.
Harry was a consummate musician, accomplished on the violin, piano, and guitar.
Throughout his career Harry stayed active in his community through many organizations. He was a board member of the Jazz Institute of Chicago, played the violin with the Chicago Bar association and the Famous "Do it yourself Messiah" Chicago. For over 25 years, Harry faithfully spent the holiday playing Handel's Messiah along with hundreds of other volunteer musicians and choir members.
Harry was an avid supporter of the jazz community. He was an active board member of the Jazz Institute of Chicago and spent the better part of a weekday evening at Andy's Jazz Club listening to his favorite local musicians.
Harry was raised in the Baptist Church but after marrying Marianita he became a faithful participant and contributor to St. Augustine's Episcopal Church in Gary, Indiana.
Welcoming him to his new assignment at the gates of WHEVEN-TV are his parents, Harry and Viola, and his brother and sister-in-law, Leonard and Jackie.
Harry W. Porterfield, Jr. leaves behind his wife of 55 years Marianita who he loved dearly, sons, Eric (Tina) Shropshire, and JJ (Angela) Porterfield; daughters, Gina Shropshire and Allison (Robert) Porterfield-Woods; granddaughter Amanda Shropshire-Porterfield, also a broadcast anchor in Milwaukee, WI, and great-grandson, Christian Shropshire-Newson, as well as a host of cousins.
Harry touched many lives and mentored many young journalists throughout his career. He was respected by many members of both the local and national broadcast community and will be missed dearly.
In lieu of flowers please make a donation to St. Augustine Episcopal Church (by mailing a check or on Zelle at Staugary@outlook.com) or the Jazz Institute of Chicago (https://www.jazzinchicago.org/)
For additional stories on Mr. Porterfield https://abc7chicago.com/harry-porterfield-obituary-dead-death-someone-you-should-know/13958580/ https://www.cbsnews.com/chicago/news/harry-porterfield-obituary/
Public Memorial Services will be Sunday, November 19, 2023, at 3:00 p.m. from St. James Episcopal Cathedral 65 East Huron Chicago, Illinois. 60611