Evelyn Jane Porter


Evelyn Jane Porter, 87, of Hartford passed into eternal life on Nov. 2, 2009, at Linden Grove nursing home in Waukesha.

The third child of four, Evelyn was born in Appleton on Dec., 29, 1921, to Arthur and Lulu (nee Smith) Kassilke, who owned and worked an 80-acre farm at the edge of town.

Evelyn lost her mother to Multiple Sclerosis when she was 10. Despite the lack of having a mother herself, she learned how to be a mother early in life. She tended to the needs of her brothers and her father until she was 25, when a visiting minister convinced her father that Evelyn should go to college. Members of the First Methodist Church in Appleton took up a collection and sent her to North Central College in Naperville, Ill., where she earned a degree in youth ministry. After college, Evelyn worked as the Sunday school director at a church in Flint, Mich., and then held a similar position in Sheboygan.

Later came a position with the First Methodist Church in LaPorte, Ind., where Evelyn met the love of her life, Rex B. Porter. Evelyn and Rex married in June of 1954. Two years later, they moved from Indiana to Appleton, where Evelyn’s father lived alone in his big farmhouse. In April, Bethany, their first child, was born. Son, Brian, followed in 1958. Summers, Rex’s children, Donald (Linda Hutton) and Veronica (Jerry Arnold), would spend time with them on the farm. In 1961, shortly after daughter Wendy was born, Rex got a job in Milwaukee and the family moved to Hartford, where Evelyn lived until two years ago.

Evelyn, a product of the Great Depression, nurtured a big vegetable garden. She would can or freeze produce from the garden and sweet corn, beans, pickles and beets from the farms surrounding Hartford. She enjoyed sewing and made most of her daughters’ clothes. Evelyn and Rex were leaders in the First Methodist Church in Hartford. They taught Sunday school, were on the the administrative board, and Evelyn was active in Hartford’s Church Women United. Evelyn regularly visited sick and elderly members of the church. She and Rex gave the elderly rides to and from church on Sundays. After taking a first aid class with Rex, Evelyn volunteered regularly in the nurse’s office at Lincoln Elementary School, across the street from their house. After the children were grown, Evelyn took a job at Libby’s, and then later at Gateway Nursing Home (now Hartford Care Center). When Rex retired in 1979, Evelyn and Rex took additional training offered by the Red Cross and became certified to give first aid and CPR. This training opened the door to positions at Pine Lake Methodist Camp near Westfield. For eight wonderful summers, Evelyn worked as the camp nurse and Rex was the camp naturalist and handy man.

In 1993, after many relaxing retirement years spent with family and friends, Evelyn lost her beloved husband, Rex, to a fall. She continued to live in her home on Main Street in Hartford until 2007, when she moved to the Legacy of Hartford and then to Linden Grove in Waukesha.

Evelyn is preceded in death by her parents, Arthur B. and Lulu (nee Smith) Kassilke; her brothers, Bernard and Gordon Kassilke; her in-laws, Grace Kassilke, Burl and Pauline Porter, Gerri and Alvin Van De Walker, Elsie and La Verne Mickelson, JoEva Porter Jones, Suzie and Andy Ales; and her husband, Rex B. Porter.

Evelyn is survived by her brother, Donald (Patricia) Kassilke of Fairfax, Va.; her sister-in-law, Dorothy Kassilke of Wauwatosa; her three children, Bethany (Rodney) Sanchez of Milwaukee, Brian (Annette Zimmerman) Porter of Madison and Wendy (James) Quinn of Wales; and her step-children, Donald (Linda) Porter of Indianapolis, and Veronica (Jerry) Arnold of Fort Collins, Colo. She is also survived by grandchildren, Alex Porter, Jamie Quinn, Collin Quinn, Anthony Porter, Kevin Porter, Steven Arnold, Jennifer (Scott) Ammerman, Chris Hutton and Jim (Yolanda) Hutton; and many great-grandchildren, greatgreat-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews.

Visitation is Friday, Nov. 6, 2009, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church, 738 W. Monroe Ave., Hartford. Funeral Service will follow at 1 p.m. at the Church. The Rev. Brian Kundinger and the Rev. T. Edmond White will officiate. Interment will be at Pleasant Hill Cemetery.

The Berndt-Ledesma Funeral Home is serving the family. www.berndtledesma.com.