- Faith & Family
During her lifetime, Willie Pearl Kelker Porter has managed to achieve many accomplishments. Whether it was in the professional field of nursing or her dedication to charity work in the community, she has always distinguished herself.
On October 5th, Porter will reach another milestone when she celebrates her 100th birthday.
Born on October 5th, 1911 in Milton, Florida, she was the third of seven children. Her parents, Willie and Pearl Kelker, instilled the value of education within her at a very early age. And Porter was interested in nursing at an early age.
“When we were little and playing games, as children, we played doctor and I refused to play if I could not be the nurse,” Porter recalled.
She completed her high school education at Washington High School in Pensacola,
Florida in 1933. Porter went on to Freedman’s Hospital School of Nursing in Washington, D.C. where she completed her training in 1935 to become a registered nurse, R.N.
After graduating, she began her professional nursing career as a public health nurse in Washington, D.C. In 1937, she was appointed supervisor of nurses at what was then known as the Florida A&M College Hospital in Tallahassee. She served for 28 years in various capacities for the university’s hospital including working as the health instructor and the school nurse for the College High School.
Ever devoted to pursuing knowledge, Porter also she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from Florida A&M University and her Master of Science degree in Medical and Surgical Nursing at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana during this period.
In 1939, she married the late Dr. Gilbert Lawrence Porter. Their union produced two
children, Laurestine Porter, a retired Miami-Dade County (MDC) public school media specialist and Albert Wesley Porter, who works in the MDC Department of Business Development.
In 1965, the dedicated nurse moved to Miami, Florida with her family and became a member of the Nursing Staff at Christian Hospital. Eventually, she left Christian Hospital and joined the Mount Sinai Hospital as the first Black person to serve as an instructor in the School of Practical Nursing. When the nursing school at Mount Sinai closed, Porter was able to put her education and experience to further good use by becoming a teacher at Miami Jackson High School and at Miami Senior High School.
Finally, she retired in 1973.
Yet although Porter has left the working life, she remains active in the community. She has served as a member in a number of organizations including the National Black Nurses Association, Florida A&M University Alumni Association, Freedman’s Hospital School of Nursing Alumni, Family Christian Association of America’s Maturity Club, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, AARP, Episcopal Church of the Incarnation, Saints Ann-Margaret Episcopal Church Women’s Association, and the American Heart Association.
Through it all, Porter has remained committed to the nursing field. On her 90th birthday, she established the Willie Pearl Porter Nursing Scholarship Fund. This scholarship is designed for deserving high school students who intend to pursue a degree in the field of Nursing. To this date, eight $1,000.00 scholarships have been awarded.