Judy Porter’s lasting legacy began with a degree in nursing education from UW–Madison. It launched a four-decade career that spanned leadership roles in teaching and public health and saw her become a pioneer in home health care in Wisconsin. Porter Cert’58, ’59 also had a lifelong love for Door County, where she and her husband, Harry, made their home in Sturgeon Bay for 50 years. Porter served as the county’s director of public health nursing for 13 years before opening one of the first privately owned home health care services in the state.
A Rhinelander, Wisconsin, native and proud School of Nursing alumna, Porter wanted to provide the same educational opportunities that she had to future Badger nurses from northern Wisconsin. Her husband honored her last wish by establishing the Judy Porter Memorial Scholarship Fund. The financial need-based scholarship is intended for School of Nursing students from Rhinelander, Door County, or other rural Wisconsin towns. The scholarship will be awarded to its first recipient in fall 2020.
After graduating from the UW, Porter worked as a nursing instructor at Madison General Hospital. She went on to serve as a psychiatric nursing instructor at Madison’s Mendota Mental Health Institute. The couple spent a short time living in Fort Collins, Colorado, where she was a public health nurse. When they returned to Wisconsin, she worked at Tomahawk Hospital and the Visiting Nurses Association before they settled in Sturgeon Bay.
While serving as the director of public health nursing in Door County, Porter was deputized in order to help with emergency situations. She went on to open Porter Kiehnau Home Care Services with longtime friend Diane Kiehnau, and they ran the business together for almost 20 years. During this time, they helped found a state organization for home health care providers and opened and operated an assisted living home called Cranberry Haus. Porter retired from nursing in 2000 and joined her husband in running their family business, Porter’s Pines, a Christmas tree business where they made wreaths and planted upwards of a million trees in Door County.