Journalist, alumnus dies at 81

News Editor

Billy Porterfield, Texas journalist and award-winning author, has died after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.

Porterfield was born Oct. 16, 1932 in Henderson, to Tice Covey Porterfield and Janavee Elizabeth Harrell Porterfield. He died on June 29 at Seton Hospital in Kyle.

Porterfield’s career at national newspapers lasted more than 50 years. He covered influential events of the 20th Century with “distinctive style” and a “keen ear” for the spoken and written word, according to his obituary.

In 1952, Porterfield and his brother Bobby attended what was then Southwest Texas Teachers College, now Texas State University. His career in journalism began with a staff writer position at the College Star, now The University Star.

In 2010, Porterfield donated his archives that totaled 35 boxes of clippings, correspondence, manuscripts of his books, photographs and other memorabilia to the Southwestern Writers Collection, a part of the Wittliff Collections at the university. Giving his archives to the Wittliff Collections was a “homecoming of sorts” for the former Bobcat, according to his obituary.

Porterfield began his career on the crime beat for the Houston Chronicle and developed a name for himself as a dedicated reporter and talented writer. He went on to cover national stories, like civil rights marches, after winning the Ernie Pyle Memorial Award.

In 1967, he returned to Texas and was the first writer chosen for the Dobie-Paisano Fellowship, a writer’s retreat at the former ranch of J. Frank Dobie.

In 1978, Porterfield began as a columnist for the Dallas Times Herald and later joined the Austin American-Statesman as a columnist. His writings have been published in The Saturday Evening Post, Texas Monthly, The New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, the Malakoff News and The Chautauquan. He later taught creative writing at Southern Methodist University.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Porterfield’s name to the Texas State University Wittliff Collections or The University Star Scholarship Endowment fund. Gifts can be mailed to Texas State University, Office of Donor Services, 601 University Drive, J. C. Kellam Building, Room 480, San Marcos 78666.