GALVESTON – Henry Peter Porretto, Jr., passed away Sunday, March 18, 2007, at his residence. Born on July 16, 1928, on Galveston Island, Texas he grew up and lived most of his working life on Galveston.
He graduated from Kirwin High with his years there known as “Smiling Hank.” Senior year he was recognized as Class President, the varsity football team and named “Most Popular.” Mr. Porretto attended the University of Texas in Austin and the University of Houston obtaining two degrees in 1956 as a petroleum engineer and geologist.
Mr. Porretto proudly served in the United States Army during the Korean War. After working in the oil industry with his father, Henry became a self-employed business owner acquiring real estate holding and his love Porretto Beach. He married his wife of 50 years, Rosemarie Matijevich Porretto in 1956. In 1967-1971 he was the President of the Hotel Association of Galveston. Mr. Porretto served on the Galveston Park Board of Trustees for 6 years and was invited to return in 1979 being honored for his six years of “loyal conscious service.”
He acquired the beachfront property also known as Porretto Beach and continued operating the park for over 40 years. He championed private property owner’s rights as he maintained and operated successfully Porretto beach parking, concessions, umbrellas, chairs and floats. For many years Mr. Porretto donated the use of his property for organizations such as, The Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Pull-A-Thon contest, the Galveston Jaycees for community needs fund and the Galveston County Sheriff’s Department Beach Patrol for their Lifeguard Association Competitions. Mr. Porretto has served on the Galveston Lions Club for over 40 years and his efforts were dedicated to the organization helping many unfortunate individuals. As a Lion, Mr. Porretto received the Lion of the Year Award in 1974-1975, 1975-1976 he received an additional “appreciation award” and felt most honored receiving multiple times the Doctor Mihovil Award for Outstanding Leadership to the Welfare of His Community.
His last few years were full of strength and courage fighting for his and other’s private property and constitutional rights. He enjoyed meeting his close friends at 3:00 p.m. everyday and having coffee with them to fellowship and share laughter. He enjoyed visiting his ranch with his sons and grandsons. Mr. Porretto’s dedication to his wife Rosemarie and children Henry Stephen, Rose Ann, Michael Joseph, Mark Dominic and Sonya Marie was exhibited by the character and principals he lived. He taught each one of his children at a very young age hard work and determination defined your principals. His fight for what he believed in and stood for has shown honorable and is deeply respecting by many. His children and grandchildren carry a legacy insurmountable to any one thing other than the love we all shared with and for him. His family and friends who knew him well will champion his memory and legacy forever. His children and grandchildren will carry much strength in his name and honor with dignity and pride. Rosemarie will miss his presence although, be kept warm with the light he has shined on all of us within the years we have been blessed with him.
Surviving are his wife of 50 years, Rosemarie Matijevich Porretto; his sons, Lt. Henry Stephen Porretto, of Galveston, Michael Joseph Porretto and wife Suzanne of Sergeant, Texas, and Mark Dominic Porretto of Galveston; daughters Rose Ann Porretto Clements and husband Scott of Spring and Sonya Porretto Nelson and husband Darryl of Houston, grandchildren, Alexander and Nicolette Nelson, Samuel and Marcus Porretto, Giovanni Porretto and Alexandria Clements.
Pallbearers will be Sam G. Tramonte, Irwin Newmark, Charles Staudt, Mauricio Antonelli, James Adams and Arthur Trimarchi. Honorary pallbearers will be Paul Bearers, Bernie Peterson and Boomer Marinelli.
Arrangements and funeral services will be handled by D.J. Termini, nephew and Funeral Director of J. Levy & Termini Funeral Home, Galveston, Texas.
Visitation will be held on Tuesday, March 20, 2007, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. with a Rosary to begin at 7:00 p.m. A Mass of Christian burial will be held on Wednesday, March 21, 2007, at 11:00 a.m. at Sacred Heart Catholic Church with Father Frank Fabj officiating. Interment will follow at Lakeview Cemetery in Galveston, Texas.
In lieu of contributions and flowers, please make a donation to a charity of your choice. Henry believed in giving to all anonymously.
Henry will always be known as “The True Big Kahuna” of Galveston.