January 27, 2021

Brave Nation remembers Officer Jim Porter

(Franklin, GA) — A graveside service and internment was held Thursday afternoon for Officer Jim Porter, Class of 2005 Heard County graduate and long-time law enforcement officer with several agencies in the West Georgia region including the Heard County Sheriff’s Office.

Porter died suddenly on Monday, May 18 from leukemia that was only officially diagnosed just hours before his passing at Emory Hospital in Atlanta.

James H. Porter, Jr. was just 33 years of age and leaves behind a beautiful family including his wife, Erin, and three young children, Augustus (Gus) Houston Porter, Elizabeth (Elsie) Jo Porter, and a one month old Sadie Monroe Porter.

He is also survived by his parents, Jimmy and Rita Porter, and one sister, Vanessa Thornhill.

Rita Porter is a former teacher at HCHS and Vanessa was a 2001 graduate of Heard High.

Thursday’s graveside-only service at Centralhatchee First Baptist Church included a massive law enforcement funeral procession that featured well over 200 vehicles and stretched all the way from the church to the Heard County line as it carried Porter’s body from Carroll County to his final resting place.

Porter began at the Heard County Sheriff’s Office as a detention officer in September of 2009 before graduating from the Police Academy and transferring to the Patrol division in December of 2010.

He was promoted to Corporal in the fall of 2015.

In the fall of 2016, he resigned and moved to the Bowdon Police Department in Carroll County where he was detached to his dream law enforcement job as part of the West Metro Regional Drug Enforcement Office.

In addition to his family and the law enforcement community, Porter leaves behind a host of friends who were also on hand to honor him at the service.

Porter was known far and wide as a positive and jovial spirit that was rarely if ever in a bad mood.

He was especially beloved by the Heard County Brave Nation where his list off accomplishments was long — most notably in athletics.

Porter was actually the very first quarterback to play under current head coach Tim Barron.

As just a sophomore during Barron’s inaugural season at the helm in 2002, Porter helped lead a talented team to the Class A playoffs despite entering the season after having gone 1-21 the two seasons prior.

With Porter manning the offense, that squad opened the season with a five game winning streak and went on to post a 10-2 mark before dropping a close second round playoff game at Twiggs County.

A couple of Porter’s big highlights in that 2002 season included leading the team to a 26-9 road win at Brookstone for Coach Barron’s first victory at Heard County. The big win over the Cougars also snapped the longest losing streak in school history.

The following week, Porter scored an important rushing touchdown as the Braves again notched a big 14-7 road win — this time over Pacelli.

Another memorable football moment came during his senior season as Porter hauled down the game-sealing interception as the Braves upended Callaway 18-13 in Lagrange to notch the school’s first ever win in Class AA.

After being the starting QB in his sophomore season, Porter split time over the next couple of seasons as an upperclassmen and that is when Coach Barron says he learned the most about the young man’s character.

“You know when we got here in 2002, we had some very talented kids in our backfield and at the skill positions and we really just needed someone that could manage our offense and be a leader on and off the field and Jim Porter excelled in that role for us,” says Coach Barron.

“But during the next couple of seasons, we had a different make-up and we needed for Jim to help us be a better team by playing some other positions. He never complained about it and was always positive about whatever his role might be — Jim Porter just wanted to win.”

Barron says it was Porter’s genuine nature and positive spirit that most impressed him — not just during his time in high school but in adulthood.

“The one thing that I can say about Jim Porter is he was always the same guy whether it was on the field or off. Even when he was in uniform as law enforcement he was always the same — and you just don’t always see that,” said Barron.

Porter, a pitcher and outfielder for the Braves from 2002-2005, still holds several modern Heard County school baseball records.

These include most RBI’s in a career (113), most home runs in a season (10), most RBI’s in a season (42), most hit by pitches in a season (12), and most career pitching appearances with 46. The 4-year starter is third in career homers for the Braves with 17 and garnered 18 wins on the mound.

Porter and his teammates put together some of the most solid seasons in school history including achieving a No. 1 ranking in the state during the 2004 season.

Chad Brown, his former baseball teammate and one of his best friends, says the statistical accolades alone do not tell the entire story of Jim Porter the Heard County baseball player.

“As a teammate, Jim Porter was perfect. The exact right amount of skill, confidence, charisma, leadership, warrior, and personality to be whatever we needed him to be at that given moment,”says Brown. “He never led with words. He led by being Jim. We just wanted him at the plate, not because he could change the game in one swing (which he could, and did) — but you wanted him to be the one to do it because he deserved it.”

Brown, the current head baseball coach at Pepperell High School, says that Porter was not only an exceptional athlete in his own right, but the type of person that made those around him excel.

“The real truth is Jim knew he was the man. He had to be. But he also made you believe you were the man. Because that’s what you needed. He made you believe you were special. He made everyone around him so much better.”

Porter’s fun-loving and humorous spirit was also reflected in his law enforcement workplace.

“Jim was a good guy that I got to watch on the fields every Friday night and then later he came to work here at the Sheriff’s office and he did a good job for us,” said Sheriff Ross Henry. “We hated to lose him but we already had our task force position filled and that is something he had always wanted to do.”

No matter the agency he was working for, Porter was widely-known as an officer that was well-liked even by those that he arrested.

Outside the workplace, Porter loved his family, God, and his many close friends.

He was especially close with six other Heard County guys — Cory Shelnutt, Dustin Lane, Matthew Dean, Kyle and Jake Yates, Shane Hannah, and Chad Brown.

Coach Barron says this is perhaps the closest group of guys he has ever seen come through the Heard County Athletics program during his almost 20 years as coach.

Cory Shelnutt says they just always watched each other’s backs and that Porter was a pivotal member of the group.

“Jim was just always so true to himself and always had such a positive attitude — and he was the funniest guy I have ever known. There so many stories — some I can tell and some that I can’t,” says Shelnutt.

“Our group of guys along with others have gone on the same summer fishing trip together for the last 17 years — we just all loved him.”

While it is plain to see the impact that Porter had on his family, friends, and coworkers during his life, there are countess unnamed others that he helped throughout his law enforcement career.

One of those people reached out to The Heard Citizen this week in an anonymous email.

“When he busted me for drugs I was initially so angry about it — but now looking back I realize that Jim Porter saved my life that night and I am forever grateful. I am praying hard for his family.”


  1. Jim were always honest with me when he worked for HCSO. To have an officer to give you his personal number and say call me if you need anything that was the guy i loved and always will because the actions he showed me over the years. Mr and Mrs. Porter raised a good man.

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