History of Sarel Orien (Si) Porter

Son of Aaron Benjamin Porter Jr., and Eva Allanna Nichols  

Including An Autobiography and Comments by friends and family



I was born in Burton Idaho on Jan 27-07 in a two story simulated log siding house about 1/2 mile west of the Porter (Aaron Porter Sr. and Rebecca Poole) farm (Father's parents' farm.).

I don't recall what my father was doing to make a living, but assume he was trying to farm, as that was the thing he seemed to like most.

We moved to Rexburg not long after I was born and Dad was running a mail route to surrounding communities soon thereafter with a team of mules. The mules were quite mean to handle, but very durable and sure-footed in the ice and snow, and we had to be careful of their kicks and bites.  

I remember how Mother would heat the bricks in the oven in the wintertime and placed in a portable metal oven and put in the cutter sleigh to keep his feet warm during his run.


Dad built a large, two-story house on East Main St. across the street from Fred Parkinson (a prominent dry-farmer) and our barn was across the alley from Grandfather's barn east & west and across the alley from the big Ricks estate north and south.  Leland, (Mother's youngest brother - about the same age as Osmer) would be doing his chores in their barn about the same time as we were in ours and there was a lot of playing back and forth going on during chore time.

Our neighbors on the east (next to the Nichols) were Grover’s and Manwaring’s and Jack Lewis lived next to us on the west side.

Our jobs were cutting and hauling in wood for both cooking and heating (until we could afford coal) and cleaning out the barn, chicken coop, etc.

At first, we used an outside toilet, but eventually had inside plumbing.

We always had a large garden with raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries, etc.

Dad gave up the mail route and worked at several jobs around town, including a clerk at the Farmer's Equity, repaired shoes and harness and several other jobs.  

I started school in the old rock school building (still being used - unless the Teton flood affected it).  L. Tom Perry (Sr.) was the principal (father of the General Authority L. Tom Perry) and I can recall very few of my teachers. Miss Hibbard was one of the early grade teachers and Miss Hahn was one of the middle grade teachers.  

I started playing the Cornet while quite young, and, along with Eddit Lenroot and Arthur Brenner, and others, played marches for the kids to march in and out of the building every day.  

I was never much of a student and had a hard time keeping my mind off sports and outdoor activities.  Even in high school, I disliked history, geography and most subjects.  I must have had a good English teacher, because I seemed to enjoy sentence structure and basic English, but hated literature and reading books for book reports, etc.

As a youngster, I spent several summers on both the (Alvin W. and Eve) Nichols farm in Thornton and the Porter farm in Burton.  Grandmother Porter was a widow as Grandfather (Aaron Sr.) Porter died Nov. 15, 1904.  She operated the farm in Burton for many years afterward.  After her family was grown she leased the farm to a Japanese family until she sold the property.

I often went on calls to surrounding communities with Grandfather (Alvin W.) Nichols, who was a vetinarian, and it was quite an experience watching him perform his duties doctoring all kinds of animals. One of my jobs was to hold a "twist," or loop, on the nose of horses while he treated them.  The "twist" seemed to mesmerize them some way.  Of course some of the other services Grandfather did would be inappropriate to describe.  Lysol was the main disinfectant used and I can still recall the smell, as it permeated his office, a "vet barn" in back of the J. C. Penny "Golden Rule" store in Rexburg.

He was quite a character and tried to drive a car like he would a horse and "buggy."  He would yell "whoa" and pull back on the steering wheel instead of applying the brake.

It seems that every childhood disease came to our house and we spent weeks on end in quarantine.  The first flu that came along was real hard on some of us.  Dad and I were hit the hardest. I remember when the first World War broke out and seeing all the men leave the Rexburg station.  There were a lot of tears shed and, of course for good reason, because many of them didn't come back.

About 1914, when the war was declared, Dad bought a farm in North Salem and put the house in Rexburg up for security.  Also about this time we homesteaded some land in Greentimber, about 12 miles east of Ashton.

I think we spread ourselves too thin and wound up losing both farms and the Rexburg property.

I went to my first year of high school at Ricks College, which was then the only high school in Rexburg. That was in 1922 and the next year we moved to Pocatello and the high school students moved into Madison High School.

On Feb 21, 1923, I was given a patriarchal blessing by A. J. Hansen at Rexburg, before we moved to Pocatello.

In Pocatello, I quit school to work in the office at the Mutual Creamery - where my elder brother worked as office manager (Osmer - Jerry).  This was short-lived and I went to work as a "soda jerk" (clerk) for Hemingway and Moser.  After my mission I worked at the Pacific Fruit Express for 31-1/2 cents per hour shoveling ice out of car bunkers.  Went from there to Woolworth’s as a stock clerk. Was moved to Greeley, Colo., and quit after a month there.

I first remember singing in the old Rexburg Tabernacle as a child and was in some little operettas in grade school. I also sang in several high school operettas, including Belle of Bo (sp?) and Carmen.  I also played on the second team basketball squad under Rich Fox.    Sandy Sanford was my music teacher and later gave lessons to Roger.  J. A. Ziebarth was my commercial teacher and I thoroughly enjoyed his classes. He often let me grade papers and seemed to take a special interest in me.  I learned to play a uke, by ear, and as youngsters we would ride around town singing and playing the uke.  Jim Atkinson, Leo Killian, Wallace Kirkman, Ferris Felstead were some of those High School friends.

Soon after my mission to New Zealand I met Louisa Pickett in Pocatello and we were married on July 14, 1934 at Driggs, Idaho.  We were sealed in the S. L. Temple June 10, 1935 by George F. Richards.  Louisa writes: "Our marriage was at the pit of the depression.  For entertainment we went to the Rialto Theatre on E. Center on bargain nights. Two tickets cost us 15 cents.  We played Pinochle most of our other free evenings

with Royal Pickett (Louisa's brother who lived with us), Myrtice and Owen Benzley and others. Every one knew a pinochle game would be going at our house so we had many friends drop in.  

Louisa taught half time and I worked for 75 cents an hour at Orange Transportation. Our first home was at 420-1/2 W. Custer St. in Pocatello.  Later we bought an old two story home at 257 S. Hayes, in Pocatello, and remodeled it inside and out.  Our neighbors at the rear were the Theo. Whittles and the George Atkinson’s lived north of us.

All of our children were born in Pocatello:  Nancy Loa, 11 Jan 1939, Roger Sarel, 16 Feb 1943, and Susan Kay, 25 June 1944.  Nancy started school in Pocatello.  The others started school in Overton Nevada after we moved there in 1947.

Church Matters:  I was baptized 3 Apr 1915, ordained a Priest 16 Feb, 1925 by Aaron B. Porter Jr., and Elder Sept. 19, 1927 at the age of 20 by Lamoni H. Tolman in the Pocatello 3rd Ward, endowed 2 Jan 1928 in the S. L. Temple, ordained a High Priest on 23 June 1957 at the age of 50 by LeGrande Richards when I was also ordained a Bishop.  

The Richards family has been quite instrumental in ordinations, etc. in my church life and my cardiologist was also Dr. Stephen Richards who performed two heart operations on me in the LDS Hospital in Salt Lake.

I served in the New Zealand mission from 1928 - 1931, 39 months.  I especially remember the inspirational talks and classes at the mission home by David O. McKay.  I served in Wellington, Masterton, and Hastings at the Maori Agricultural College until the big earthquake. The mission paper was located there and I was assistant editor and then editor.  I moved the office to Auckland after the big earthquake.  My first companion was Wm. P. Miller who later became the President of Weber College.  My companion at Masterton was Miller's school pal, Elder Golden Smedley of Syracuse Ut.  After I moved to the Maori Agricultural College at Hastings my companion was Elder Roberts of Logan, Ut.  After moving the print shop to Auckland, my assistant was Gerald Gibbs from Edmonton Alberta Canada.  President Ephraim Magleby became ill and I had to stay several months longer than usual.  I went to the hospital daily to shave him and administer to other needs. (I'll add his mission diary later:  Roger)

I served as Sunday School Supt. in the New Zealand mission, Young Men MIA Supt. in Pocatello 1st Ward, Bishop of the Overton, Nevada ward from 23 June 1957 to April, 1964, Moapa Stake High Council, 1964 to 2/13/67, and in the Mesa Genealogy library in 1975.


Comments by Roger:
Sarel worked as a carpenter for Bob Waymire and owned "Porter's cottages and trailer park" on the south end of Overton, Nevada, and Louisa taught school, mostly third grade.  After the kids were gone they sold the motel and moved to Las Vegas.  Shortly thereafter they both retired for health reasons, and they spent their retirement years mostly between Island Park, Idaho and Mesa Arizona.  In-between they stopped and stayed with children and grandchildren and helped in remodeling projects.  He enjoyed teasing and playing with grandkids. They were both generous and loving in every way.  He was an excellent fisherman and enjoyed hosting family and friends fishing mornings in secret spots on the Island Park Reservoir, then golfing afternoons at Island Park golf course north of Mack's Inn while they stayed in their trailer at the Lakeside Lodge trailer park near Bills Island.

Si's heart troubles finally took him 25 March 1981 when he passed away in Mesa with congestive heart failure at age 74. He is buried next to Louisa, who joined him ten years later in March of 1991 in the Mesa cemetery.


Old friends from Overton traveled to his funeral, and Lynn Slade told me he knew of no one who had a greater impact in his life than Sarel.  He had many friends, touched many lives for good, and left a beautiful legacy and us all with wonderful memories.


Memories of Sarel O. Porter by Mary Alice Slade and Lynn Slade

If anyone should ask us how to spell ‘friend,’ we would spell it ‘S-A-R-E-L’. Indeed, he was that – the BEST!


Our first association with Sarel came about because Mary Alice taught school with Louisa. Over the years we developed a love for both partners of this couple until we consider both of them our closest friends. That is an unusual and gratifying companionship, because, so often there is one partner of a couple that is liked better than the other one.


These qualities of Sarel’s stand out in our minds: wit, intellect, and congeniality. Those three qualities are what made Sarel a person who “wore well” as the expression goes. Meaning that he became more dear and more appreciated as time went on. Some people possess one or the other of these qualities, but Sarel was blessed to have a beautiful blend of all three. It is enjoyable, for instance, to be around a person of humor. But if it gets out of hand and the person tries to outdo himself or others about him, by “playing the clown,” it sooner or later gets wearisome. And, by the same token, it is refreshing to be around someone of fine intellect. But if that person constantly assails one’s ears with weighty intellectual topics, it can soon become boring. Sarel possessed such a splendid balance of characteristics that, not matter what the situation, it was a joy to have him in our company.


Sarel never missed an opportunity to inject some humor into a conversation – a joke, a comparison, a witty saying – if the circumstances warranted it. But he had a serious side to his nature, too, and the wisdom to know what was appropriate.


It is unfortunate that these words cannot be accompanied by a tape recording, because it was Sarel’s inflections and the twinkle in his eye that gave the most humor to the witty things he would say. He “kept us in stitches!”  He was the first to poke funk using himself as a caricature with his rather slight stature, black curly hair, and sparkling black-brown eyes. He could indulge in ethnic jokes (usually Semitic) without being offensive. By simply saying, “Are you vun uf us?” we were all convulsed with mirth.

(Note by Roger: This is the story of his working with Garrett Freight Lines and attending a convention, in think in San Francisco, in which there were many Jewish businessmen attending.  Dad had a prominent nose and had a marked Semitic look about him with dark hair and eyes, and during the convention he noticed several businessmen looking at him curiously when, finally, they came up to him and one asked, “Are you vun uf us?”  He told the story in a very funny way!  He always got along with everyone and loved people and had good friends in every race and ethnic group.)


Sarel was the salt of the earth. He was brought up to honor an honest day’s work and be satisfied with less than an honest day’s pay.  Especially, through out his teen-age years and early years of his and Louisa’s marriage, the depression years were in full swing. A part of Sarel’s repertoire of witticisms came out of this period because, first hand, he knew something of what poverty was. He never belabored the point by complaining that his family didn’t have money to buy this or that. Instead, he might draw a comparison as to how hard it was to get the money to pay bills, by saying, “We were poor. In fact, as a young lad I was so poor, I couldn’t even pay attention!”


His humor really was of the “Will Rogers’” sort and it loses much impact being written down in paltry words. For instance, if we went out to dinner and the too-plump wives at the table were gorging themselves a little beyond reason, he would slyly remark, “She said she wasn’t hungry, but this is what she et!”


Sarel possessed an empathy and understanding that afforded him the qualities to be an excellent Bishop. There wasn’t a need in the Ward that went unmet, but his own right hand scarcely knew what his left was doing, and certainly others in the Ward didn’t know of the time, personal expense, or prayer that was expended in behalf of members of the Ward. Lynn worked as financial clerk for Sarel and it was a satisfying and rewarding association.


Sarel had a talent for delegating responsibility, inspiring the individual to accomplish the best his capacity had to offer, and then still keep his finger on the pulse of things to insure order and progress. His fine intellect gave him the capacity to readily understand and see a solution to a problem. But he never indulged in usurping authority or belittling the efforts of others. He realized that others’ growth was to come from letting them handle a situation.


Sarel had a storehouse of knowledge of the Gospel. His journal that he kept while he was fulfilling a mission to the Maori people in New Zealand is a treasure. When our son, Jim, was about to embark on his mission to Ireland, Sarel gave the main address. It was remarkable and lingers in our minds – not only as a well-prepared talk – but as a blueprint for life.  He used the “six serving men” analogy: who, what, when, where, why, and how, as the basis for his remarks.


And Sarel knew the bliss of solitude!  This quality endeared him to Lynn. They could sit side by side in the fishing boat, enjoying the beauties of Nature, and share a companionship that didn’t need words.


Sarel’s prowess as a fisherman and golf partner afforded these two many pleasant hours together. At the end of a perfect “fishing day” Sarel would expertly fillet his catch and then we’d have a sumptuous feast (he was a master chef too!) – the main course being the fish dipped in cornmeal and fried golden brown in oil.  Some of our very favorite memories are times of chat and chew and playing a game of cards or simply good conversation with Louisa and Sarel.


A human failing, it seems, is a tendency to think of the good qualities of a person only after they are gone, rather than when we had real-life association with them.  Thank goodness, that isn’t true of anyone’s association with Sarel. We, and all of his friends, knew always that we had the best.  In true human frailty, too, perhaps, we didn’t express our love and appreciation as often or as completely as we should have. But, again, it is in tribute to Sarel that he didn’t seem to need constant approbation to thrive. He, indeed, was and is a Child of God and he always knew it and lived accordingly.


In heart and in memory we can still hear Sarel’s sweet, true tenor voice singing “When You Come to the End of a Perfect Day.” If we understand the nature of the most important work that man can do while on the face of this earth, then Sarel has earned his reward and is entitled to his “perfect day.” He appreciated the mission of Jesus Christ and what it accomplished in his behalf and he did his best to serve and love his fellow men.


And for that –enriching our lives—we hold you, dear Friend, Sarel, in our hearts with utmost respectful love and admiration and gratitude!