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Legacy: Ophelia Ollie Pearl Forbes Porter

What became a 60-year tenure with the Mid-South Fair began with Mrs. Porter cleaning offices.  Fondly known as the “real boss” of the Mid-South Fair of Memphis, Ophelia Ollie Pearl Forbes Porter – with her family nearby – passed away on Jan. 21. She was 88.

 Ophelia Ollie Pearl Forbes Porter
What became a 60-year tenure with the Mid-South Fair began with Mrs. Porter cleaning offices. She became an award-winning Director of Printing, Director of Wardrobe, Employee Relations Assistant and Spirit Supervisor. And before retiring at age 85, she was appointed to the Board of The Mid-South Fair.

An outstanding humanitarian, young workers and performers were often the beneficiaries of Mrs. Porter’s no-nonsense life lessons.  From Elvis Presley to Minnie Pearl and James Brown to Isaac Hayes, talented performers and craftspeople from the Mid-South and around the world were graced with her presence.

Born June 9, 1922 to Elnora and Cleveland Forbes in Memphis, she married Joseph Porter, Jr. (deceased) on Christmas Day1944. Their union produced nine children, all of whom graduated from Melrose High School and became college graduates.

Raised in the Hollywood area of north Memphis and graduated from Manassas High School, Mrs. Porter was as a member of Princeton Chapel AME Zion Church founded by her mother and grandmother. After her marriage, she became a stalwart and active member of the Orange Mound community.  She joined Mt. Pisgah CME Church where she served on Usher Board #2, and with the Faithful Few Missionary Circle.

Her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, family friends, and community were gifted by her open heart, listening ear, outspokenness, creativity in the kitchen and at the sewing machine. Her home in Orange Mound was a refuge, destination point and crossroads where three generations of Porter’s were disciplined, learned their heritage, family traditions, moral values, and instructions to become educated and productive contributors to society.

The watchtower of Zanone Ave., Mrs. Porter was a dedicated “porch sitter” who could be seen morning or evening enjoying a meal, having coffee or cokes and chatting with neighbors and passers-by to gather news about the community.

Mrs. Porter’s home going is celebrated by:

Children: Carma Rose Potter, Eleanor Joyce Forbes Porter, Kemati Janice E. Porter, Cheryll Marie Porter, Andrea Lynn Porter, Barbara Jean Beaver (Harold) and Joanne Ophelia Fields (James). (Deceased: Joseph Porter, III and Marilyn Orvette Brown (Robin).

Grandchildren: Joseph Porter IV; Julius “Marc”, April and Camille Potter; Ley Ana Crumpton; Brandon and Holland Taylor; Jessica, Nia and Nikette Battle; Myya Washington, Chinue and Thandiwe Brown; Jazz and James Fields III.

Great grandchildren: Porter Crumpton, Markayla Potter, Christylle and Isaiah Snodgrass, Phoenix Battle.

Siblings: Cleoford (Mary Alice), Joseph (Roberta), George (Mary) Forbes, and niece Mary Jean Evans, Marie Hodges, Eliza Mae Davis, Mack Henry Forbes and Thelma Louise Forbes preceded her in death.

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