Garner December 1, 1923 – July 30, 2007

Porter S. Garner Jr., 83, died July 30, 2007 at the Kerrville VA Medical Center. Services will be at 2 p.m. Friday, August 3 at First United Methodist Church in Kerrville.

Possessed of an indomitable life force, Porter was a World War II hero who overcame crippling injuries to raise a family and run a successful business while participating in the civic life of his community and service to Texas A&M University. He was an inspiring father, loving husband, loyal friend, amiable host and an Aggie, class of ’45.

Porter was born December 1, 1923 in Mound Creek, Texas, to Porter Stroman Garner Sr. and Lillie Shaw Garner. He lived in Karnes City, Robstown, Victoria and Laredo, where his father was an educator, superintendent of schools and college president.

After graduation from Laredo’s Martin High School in 1941, Porter joined the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M, beginning a lifelong commitment to the school, that included an endowed presidential scholarship, a 12th Man endowed scholarship and service as an International Ambassador of Goodwill and class agent for decades.

Porter left A&M to serve in the army as first lieutenant, seeing duty in Belgium, France and Germany before he was wounded in Germany in April 1945. He spent almost 12 months in hospitals in England and Texas, much of that time in a body cast after doctors told him his wounds would leave him unable to walk.

Defying that diagnosis, Porter relearned how to walk and went on to enjoy many years of playing golf, climbing into hunting blinds and in and out of fishing boats. He married Wanda Bessan in 1946 and joined his father-in-law Mayo Bessan in the family business Bessan founded in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico: the Cadillac Bar. Porter ran the business until 1979, when he retired and moved to the Hill Country.

During his tenure at the Cadillac, Porter oversaw reconstruction of the famous restaurant and bar, after a flood destroyed it in 1954. His friendly demeanor created thousands of returning, regular customers and earned him friends the world over. In Laredo, Porter was a stalwart volunteer and president of the Border Olympics Track and Field Tournament, which honored him with its highest award in 1990. He also was active with the Laredo A&M Club, helping charter the club and serving as its first president.

He served on the board of directors of the Association of Former Students of Texas A&M University and on the board of the 12th Man Foundation. He also was a founder of the International Bank of Commerce.

After moving to the Hill Country, Porter was a co-owner of The Ingram News and served on the Hill Country Youth Foundation board. In 1991, Porter married Betty Joe Fox and embraced her children and grandchildren as his own. They lived happily, traveling, playing bridge and hosting friends with good food and conversation.

Above all, Porter loved telling stories. It seems he knew the punch line to every joke, lyrics to every song and cast list of every movie. He cherished his family and kept alive an oral tradition tracing the genealogy of his forbears who came to Indianola, Texas, from Great Britain in the 19th century.

Survivors include his beloved wife, Betty Joe of Kerrville; children, Wanda Cash and husband, Richard of Austin, Clay Berry of San Antonio and Porter S. Garner III and wife, Lisa, of College Station; sister, Jean Claire Turcotte of Kingsville; grandchildren, Austin Cash of Houston, Cooper Cash of College Station, Blake Berry of San Antonio, Claire Garner, Callie Garner and Porter S. Garner IV of College Station; stepchildren, Mary Ann Phillips, Susie Mefford, Tommy Fox of Houston and Mike Fox of McAllen; ten step-grandchildren; two step-great-grandchildren; former wife, Wanda; and his sister’s children, Jeanne Turcotte McDowell and William Turcotte, both of Houston, James Turcotte of Corpus Christi, Richard Turcotte of Dallas and Tricia Hoffman of London, England.

The family invites you to send condolences at by selecting the “Send Condolences” link. Funeral arrangements are entrusted to Grimes Funeral Chapels of Kerrville.
Published in The Bryan-College Station Eagle on 8/1/2007.