Man killed in wreck remembered as ‘pillar of community’

Published 4:06 pm Thursday, July 3, 2014

Bunion Porter is pictured with his wife Irene. Porter, 83, passed away on Tuesday after a single-car crash off Interstate 65 in Jemison Tuesday.

Bunion Porter is pictured with his wife Irene.
Porter, 83, passed away on Tuesday after a single-car crash off Interstate 65 in Jemison Tuesday.

Authorities are continuing to investigate a single-car crash off Interstate 65 in Jemison Tuesday that resulted in a fatality.

Bunion Porter, 83, of Jemison, was pronounced dead on the scene, shortly after 2 p.m.

Porter and his wife, Irene, were traveling on Interstate 65 southbound when they got off the interstate at Exit 219, never came to a stop, crossed County Road 42 and drove down a 40-foot embankment, according to Jemison Police Chief Shane Fulmer.

Jemison Police Department is still investigating details of how the car ended up off the embankment, which is near the on-ramp to Interstate 65 southbound.

Porter was driving a light blue Buick Lesabre.

Irene Porter was airlifted to UAB Hospital by Lifesaver air ambulance, and authorities have said she is doing OK.

As the news of Bunion Porter’s death circulated, friends and family remembered the man who many described as a “pillar of the community.”

“Our community and our church has lost a pillar,” Thompson Chapel Assembly of God Church Pastor Mark Bolton said. “He was a very humble man with a servant’s heart.”

Bolton, grew up knowing Porter, who was originally the pastor of the church.

“I have known Mr. Porter all of my life,” Bolton said. “In my whole life, he did not waver. The convictions he held in 1970 are the same convictions and standards he lived by today.”

Porter, a bi-vocational pastor, was credentialed with the Assemblies of God in 1969.

He served as the pastor of Thompson Chapel Assembly of God, Aldrich Assembly of God and Sunshine Assembly of God.

Donna Ellison attended church with Porter at Thompson Chapel Assembly of God, and said he was a “great man of God who lived out his witness every day.”

“He preached the word pure and simple that even a child could understand,” Ellison said. “He never side-stepped the truth to keep from hurting someone’s feelings. He was my pastor for many years. There is a difference in a preacher and a pastor. Bro. Bunion had a heart for his congregation.”

Bolton said within the last seven years, Porter retired from preaching and Bolton became the pastor of the church.

“When he retired from preaching, he agreed to become one of our deacons in the church,” Bolton said. “He was a very faithful member. He attended church every Sunday, and would sit in the second pew from the front.”

When asked why Porter sat in the same spot every week, Bolton said he thought it was due to Porter wanting to be involved in the church.

“I guess he thought that if he was going to be involved and in tune with what was going on, he better sit up front,” Bolton said. “He was a very kind man. I have never seen anyone take care of his or her spouse the way he did with Irene. He carried her on a pillow. In Mr. Porter’s life it was God first, Irene second, and I think everyone that knew him, knew that.”

In addition to preaching, Porter was a gifted carpenter who often contributed his skills to help build facilities where he was the pastor.

“Mr. Porter’s journey in life was not easy,” Bolton said. “He worked as a carpenter doing construction with jobs that were very taxing. Not only did he have a job that was physically and mentally tiring, but he was so faithful to his call in being the pastor of these small, rural churches. He lived what he preached, and he set an example that the rest of us can follow.”