Morgan Bubble Gum Man celebrates 100 years

Jul 27 2011 - 5:28pm

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(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner)
Harvey Porter celebrates his 100th birthday by blowing out candles at the Family Tree Assisted Living Center in Morgan.
(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner)
Morgan Mayor Jim Egbert congratulates Harvey Porter during his 100th birthday party.
(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner)
Cupcakes are arranged to spell out 100 for the party.
(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner)
Harvey Porter celebrates his 100th birthday by blowing out candles at the Family Tree Assisted Living Center in Morgan.
(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner)
Morgan Mayor Jim Egbert congratulates Harvey Porter during his 100th birthday party.
(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner)
Cupcakes are arranged to spell out 100 for the party.

MORGAN -- Suckers and candy were placed at each table setting, with balloons tied to each guest's chair. "Happy Birthday" banners were hung on doors and above the birthday boy, who was a little hesitant to strap on his birthday hat.

He wore a star badge indicating he was the guest of honor, deserving of the large stash of bubble gum at his place setting. He reached around a baseball-themed birthday cake to sift through a pile of birthday cards. Eventually, the magician came to wow party-goers.

It could have been the scene of a child's birthday party, but Harvey J. Porter was celebrating his 100th birthday July 12 at The Family Tree Assisted Living center in Morgan.

Although Porter needed no help getting to the birthday cake, blowing out 100 candles did require some aid. Afterward, he received well wishes from family, friends, and even the city mayor. On the table was confirmation from Gov. Gary Herbert that he was now a member of the Century Club of Utah.

Those attending agreed Porter, who was intent to eat his birthday cake, didn't quite look 100 years old. He followed the magician's every move, claiming props as his own.

The son of Warren W. and Susan L. Florence Porter, Harvey was one of 12 children. Born in Salt Lake City, he was raised in Morgan and graduated from Morgan High School.

He married Faye Nielson Sept. 30, 1935, in the Salt Lake LDS Temple. They had five children.

For 41 years, Porter worked at Ideal Basic Industries, the cement plant now known as Holcim, living in the company town of Devils Slide. After retiring, he made his home in Henefer, where he was known as "The Bubble Gum Man" because of the treats he often passed out to neighbor kids.

Sports were a big part of his life, said his son, Larry. He was an OK basketball player but was better known for his pitching and home-run hitting on the baseball diamond.

In 1940, he and the company baseball team won the Utah State semi-pro baseball championship. It has since gone down in history as the smallest town team to win a state championship, as noted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

In 2000, Morgan County recognized Porter and his brother Francis as the most valuable players of the century.

Ten years ago, around his 90th birthday, Porter threw out the opening pitch for the Ogden Raptors. They asked him to stand half-way between the pitchers mound and home plate.

"He would have none of that," his son, Larry said. "He was going to do it right. He stood on the pitchers mound and threw a strike, at 90 years old!"

Larry said his father was always a hard worker. He always ate two eggs, bacon and toast for breakfast. But five Dr. Peppers a day and four decades of breathing cement dust didn't seem to hurt Porter's chance of living to a healthy old age.

"We are surprised he made 100. Maybe it's in his genes," said Larry, who noted that two of his uncles lived into their 90s.

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