Westport’s John B. “Red” Cummings Jr., who has written on topics including Westport hurricanes, has written a new book — ‘Cream of the Crop — Fall River’s Best and Brightest.’
In it, the author/historian portrays educated Fall River individuals who have contributed to fields including business, the military, education and sports, from 1950 to the present. The collection of over 260 illustrated mini-biographies includes a number with Westport ties.
The book will be available for sale locally in June in stores and at all Greater Fall River branches of BayCoast Bank with a portion of each bank sale going to the United Way of Greater Fall River.
Among those featured are:William J. Porter Ambassador
William J. Porter was born in 1914 in England and died in 1988 at the Rose Hawthorne Lathrop Cancer Home in Fall River. He was the son of Sarah Day Porter and William Porter. He met his wife, Eleanore Henry, an Army nurse, while they both served in Syria. He and Eleanore had a son and daughter and 6 grandchildren. Ambassador Porter lived in Westport from 1977 to his death in 1988. He became a naturalized citizen in 1936.
Porter became famous when President Richard M. Nixon appointed him to head the Paris Peace Talks to end the Vietnam War and later as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs after the talks ended.
Before serving in that very visible diplomatic post, Porter began his career as a secretary to the United States Ambassador to Hungary. Subsequent to spending one year in that position, he joined the United States Foreign Service. He then spent time in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus and in Washington at the State Department at both the Palestine and Greek desks. Next came assignments in Morocco, North Africa and then on to Algeria as the first U.S. Ambassador to that newly independent country. He became deputy ambassador to South Vietnam until President Lyndon B. Johnson named him as Ambassador to South Korea.
Local Fall River schools, Durfee High School, Thibodeau College of Business and Boston College.
Porter received diplomatic appointments from Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford until his retirement in 1977.
Also of Note
President Richard M.Nixon appointed Porter as Ambassador to Canada in 1974 and 1975.
President Gerald R.Ford selected Porter as the United States Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, where he presented his credentials in 1976 until May 1977.
Porter was a recipient of the Durfee Distinguished Alumni Award in 1973.
Richard L. Lafrance Hospitality Entrepreneur
Richard L. Lafrance is the only child of Roland Aime and Rita Fallon Lafrance. He was born in Fall River in 1947. He married Fall Riverite from the Flint, Muriel Baraby. They are the parents of 4 children and 10 grandchildren.
It was 1955 when Aime and Rita took a massive leap forward by opening White’s of Westport at the Narrows. Their young son worked as a bus person but never gave much thought to joining the family business until he spent some time working on Wall Street as a computer analyst after college and the service.
After years away from home and with four children, the young Lafrance family returned to the family business. Lafrance has not only run the banquet and restaurant business, but expanded it into a full-fledged hospitality business with hotels, banquet halls, catering and multiple restaurant locations.
Lafrance opened the Hampton Inn next door to White’s in 1989, followed closely by two more hotels in the 1990s.
He then bought and updated Bittersweet Farm Restaurant in 1998 and Rachel’s Lakesider, formerly Stevenson’s, near the now closed Lincoln Park in North Westport on the Dartmouth town line.
Multiple hotels and restaurants have been part of the Lafrance stable over the last decade in various states; most recently opening, Ten Cousins Brick Oven, a family dining restaurant located in the Central Village section of Westport. His team now includes his three sons and son-in-law as well as his wife and oldest child, Rachel, and his grandchildren.
St. Joseph’s Elementary School, Monsignor Prevost High School, Notre Dame University and graduate classes at the University of Rhode Island.
Lafrance served in the Army for three years after he was drafted and attended Officers Candidate School.
Also of Note
He was named Fall River’s Outstanding Citizen in 2007 by the Chamber of Commerce. He was also an official Olympic Torch bearer for the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta.