Anthony “Tony” LaPorte Sr.
Published 8:52 am Friday, January 15, 2016
Anthony “Tony” LaPorte Sr. died Thursday, January 14, 2016, at his home in Cordele, Ga., at the age of 92, surrounded by his loving family. He was born January 8, 1924 in Elizabethton, Tenn., the son of Joseph and Minnie Lee LaPorte. He was married to Martha Jane Greer of Cordele. Together they had two sons, Anthony LaPorte Jr. and Charles Greer LaPorte, both lifetime residents of Cordele.
Known by his many friends as “Tony,” he lived in Elizabethton until graduating from Carter County High School and attending Milligan College in Johnson City, Tenn. As a young man he worked as a laboratory technician with North American Rayon Corporation until joining the United States Army Corps during World War II. After the war he continued his training and became a pilot in the United States Air Force, flying 175 combat air-sea rescue hours during the Korean War. After completing his tour in Korea, he ended active duty continuing in the Air Force Reserve, until concluding his military career with the rank of Major.
LaPorte opened a grocery store on the outskirts of Cordele which he operated as a full, fast service store for seven years.
At the same time he also operated a small farming operation in Crisp County and became a recognized breeder of Spotted Poland China livestock, serving on the national board of directors based in Indianapolis, Ind.
LaPorte was a pioneer in the development of Cordele businesses on Interstate 75. He built the first motel on I-75 in Cordele, a Holiday Inn at the intersection of I-75 and US 280, at a time when the area consisted only of cotton fields and a few houses between the interstate and downtown Cordele. A man of commitment and strong work ethic, he rapidly grew the Holiday Inn from the original 60 rooms into a 200-room Inn, complete with restaurant and meeting facilities. He then branched out into Holiday Inn developments in Calhoun and Cartersville, Ga. LaPorte was highly respected among Holiday Inn operators and was twice named Innkeeper of the Year in the Worldwide Holiday Inn System. In addition his Cordele Inn was listed as one of the Top Ten Inns for many years. He was elected to the International Association of Holiday Inns Board of Directors and also served on the Georgia Governor’s Tourism Board.
Mr. LaPorte was active in his community and served on the Board of Directors of the First State Bank and Regions Bank for over 25 years.
He was also a director of the Crisp County Planning and Zoning Board, director and chairman of the Crisp County Airport Authority as well as serving at different times as director, vice president and tourism chairman of the Cordele-Crisp County Chamber of Commerce. He was a Lifetime Guardian Member of the Boy Scouts of America, Chehaw Council and served as fund drive chairman and as Cub Master. He was an active member of the Cordele Little League Association and served as a team manager for many years.
He was an active member of the Cordele Rotary Club for many years serving as a director, as Youth Committee chairman, chairman of the International Service Committee and as club secretary. While a Rotarian he was an active member of the committee which secured the Titan Missile as a landmark, donating the location site on I-75.
Mr. LaPorte was an active member of Morningside Baptist Church, serving as Chairman of the Board of Deacons, Youth Committee chairman as Trustee. He was currently a member of First Baptist Church of Cordele.
LaPorte was instrumental in the LaPorte Family gifting the site for the Crisp County Division of Georgia Southwestern Technical College on Midway Road.
In addition to his many civic activities, LaPorte enjoyed many activities, especially fishing, golfing, skiing and ballroom dancing as well as gardening and growing beautiful roses and vegetables which he took great pleasure in sharing.
Spending time with family and friends was always a priority.
Above all else Tony LaPorte was a faithful, loving husband and a devoted father and grandfather. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Martha Jane Greer LaPorte; two sons, Anthony LaPorte Jr. and Charles Greer LaPorte and his wife, Eva Jo; several grandchildren, Trae LaPorte and his wife, Sherrie, Suzanne LaPorte, Charlie LaPorte and his wife, Heather, Elizabeth LaPorte Jones and her husband, Chad, Jeremy Clark and his wife, Rachael, as well as a number of great-grandchildren; several nieces and nephews; and one brother, Charles LaPorte of Elizabethton, Tenn. He was preceded in death by two younger brothers, Frank and Joe LaPorte.
Funeral services will be held Saturday, January 16, at 12 p.m. in the chapel of Rainey Family Funeral Services with the committal following at Sunnyside Cemetery. The family will receive friends prior to the service beginning at 10:30 a.m. until the hour of the service at the funeral home.
These arrangements are being handled by Rainey Family Funeral Services, Cordele, Ga., (229) 273-2231. An online guestbook is available at www.raineyfuneral.com