STEVENSVILLE — Rae H. Porter passed away in peace and grace on Aug. 14, 2019, surrounded by her husband and children. She was born Gwendolyn Rae Huntamer on Jan. 6, 1933, to Glenn Ray and Madeline Huntamer in Long Beach, California. The family moved to Witch Creek, California, where Rae attended second grade through eighth at the local one-room school with a couple dozen other students.
During high school in Julian, California, Rae was a promising soprano singer and continued to perform most of her life, singing for a host of weddings and life celebrations. She served as a Job’s Daughters Honored Queen and was a cheerleader in Julian High School where she met and married Mervyn Carl Porter on Feb. 7, 1950. They lived in Davis, California, while Merv completed his college studies. Then, the Porter family moved to Petaluma, California, where Merv accepted an Ag Science teaching job at the high school. Rae was a soloist and choir director in the Methodist church in Petaluma and the Julian Community United Methodist Church.
The family moved back to Julian, California, in 1963 to take over the family business, Julian Feed and Supply with other family members.
Rae was a Western art, Native American, wildlife and portrait painter. In addition, she enjoyed stained glass art, bronze sculpture, and experimented with Papier Mache and other media that caught her fancy. Rae’s credo: “I like to paint people! It’s kind of a magical process to see their images come to life on canvas. I work in watercolor, oil and acrylic — each medium has its own special feel. I’m particularly drawn to the American cowboy, having grown up on a cattle ranch. I also like to portray Native American dancers with their wonderful flow and color. I love to paint anything with a face — animal or human.”
Rae founded the Bluegrass Festival and Banjo/Fiddle Contest in 1970 which was a great success for Julian and continues to this day. For this work, she received a certificate of appreciation from the Julian Chamber of Commerce in 1972. Rae performed in the local melodramas and supported artistic endeavors of all kinds. Rae and her sister, Jo H Beck, traveled to multiple art shows throughout California, Arizona and New Mexico; and, opened the Golden Apple art gallery in Julian in 1972, also displaying the art work/jewelry of Dawn Kirk, Joe Ferrara, Bob Masch, Austin Duell. Rae was a member of the FFP (Future Famous Persons) hatched in the Furnace Creek Saloon in Death Valley in 1977, consisting of artists including Ron Stewart, Austin Deuel, Gerry Metz, Gene Dieckhoner, Robert Blair, Robert Allen, George Bennett, Parker Boyiddle, Easy Cheyno, Lisa Daniel, Charles Dixon, Timothy Giesen, Nila Comstock, Cecilia Havilland, William Hoffman, Claire Jones, Wayne Justus, Dawn Kirk, Juan Martinez, MO Merrill, Vel Miller, Jack Osmer, Norberto Reyes, Jimmi Reyes, George Taylor, Paul Weber, Ardith M Walker, and, her sister, Jo H Beck.
Rae and Merv moved to Hamilton in 1982 where Rae continued to paint. In 1988, after moving to Stevensville, she opened the Sunflower Studio art gallery and portrait studio where she showcased her own and local talent, hosted featured artist shows and other related activities such as hosting art workshops with Art in the Bitterroot in 2005. Here in Montana, Rae embraced her spiritual and artist sisterhood, the BROADS — friends for over 30 years.
Rae was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in September 2001 which robbed her of the ability to sing and eventually to paint. She continued to enjoy visiting her 15 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren frequently until travel became difficult in the last year or so.
She is survived by her loving husband, Merv, of 69 years, residing in Stevensville, her sisters Jo Dickson (Bill), residing in Borrego Springs, California, and Susan Wanket (George), residing in Valley Center, California, and brother John Huntamer (Janice), residing in Richfield, Utah. In addition her children Pamela Cote (Robert), residing in Stevensville, Michael Porter (Brenda), residing in Borrego Springs, California, Charles Porter (Judy), residing in Stevensville, Donald Porter (Serena Altilia), residing in Columbia, South Carolina, and Leslie Ann McClure (Tom), residing in Arvada, Colorado.
Grandchildren: Laura Cote (Albert Ubieta), Tina Oakes, Linda Shah (Asad), Crystal Ford Carson, Rory Porter (Laura), Rhiannon Porter (Kumar Mohanty), Mason Porter (Lamia), Wesley Porter, Samuel Porter, Luke Porter, Joshua Porter, Hannah Porter, Kathryn Brinton (Scott), Weston McClure (Erica), William McClure (Andrea).
Great grandchildren: Sierra Oakes, Hunter Oakes, Austin Michael Soltani, Jordan Soltani, Najaf Shah, Lana Porter, Milo Porter, Elan Mohanty, Emma Mohanty, Jake McClure and Cora Rae Brinton.
A local celebration of Rae’s life will be held at the family’s home in Stevensville on Saturday, Aug. 24 at 4:30 p.m. Dinner and refreshments will be served.
A graveside service and celebration of life will be held in Julian at a date to be determined.