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Billy Porterfield, Longtime Texas Journalist and KERA Producer, Dies at 81.

by Eric Aasen 1 Jul 2014 2:20 PM

Porterfield’s career included appearning on and producing KERA’ “Newsroom”.


bill_porterfieldBilly Porterfield, a longtime Texas journalist and author, died Sunday. He spent several years at KERA-TV.

Porterfield of Wimberley was 81. He had Alzheimer’s disease, according to a message on his website.

In 1969, Porterfield joined KERA as a commentator on “Newsroom,” the station’s nightly news program. He worked with Jim Lehrer, who was the program’s original host. When Lehrer joined PBS, Porterfield became executive producer. He also produced public television documentaries. (Scroll down for video of Porterfield on a 1974 edition of “Newsroom.”)

In 1978, Porterfield joined the Dallas Times Herald as a columnist. In 1985, he worked for the Austin American-Statesman as a columnist.

His worked appeared in The Saturday Evening Post and Texas Monthly, among other publications. He also taught at Southern Methodist University.

His books included LBJ Country, A Loose Herd of Texans and The Greatest Honky-Tonks in Texas.

His website states:

In 2010, Porterfield donated his archives to the Southwestern Writers Collection, a part of the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University.  The cataloged Porterfield archives comprise approximately 35 boxes and include clippings, correspondence, and manuscripts for all of his major books, numerous photographs, and other memorabilia.

Porterfield described the decision to turn over his archives to the Wittliff Collections as a homecoming of sorts, noting that he and his brother Bobby went to San Marcos in 1952 to attend what was then Southwest Texas Teachers College (Texas State University). His first job in journalism was as a staff writer at the College Star.

Survivors include his wife, Diane Barnard Porterfield; children Erin Porterfield of Tyler; Winton Porterfield of San Marcos; Oren Porterfield of Austin; Meredith Roach of Austin and Nashu Barnard of Haslet.

A memorial service will be held later this summer.

Explore Porterfield’s career and work at his website.

Watch Porterfield in this 1974 edition of KERA’s “Newsroom” with Lee Cullum:

Here’s Porterfield’s obituary on, via the Austin American-Statesman.

Read Porterfield’s obituary on his website.

Read Porterfield’s obituary in the Austin American-Statesman (registration required).