Bill Porter

by Brandon from San Diego

Bill Porter an American salesman (
Bill Porter an American salesman (

Cerebral Palsy is a crippling disease that can leave the limbs of a body useless. Imagine having this disease and working as a door-to-door salesman. There use to be tons of door-to-door salesmen, but over time these jobs faded. However, that never stopped Bill Porter from doing the same job for almost fifty-five years. Working for Watkins Inc. for these years did bring him health problems. Bill Porter had back surgery and was also hit by a car, forcing him to use the Internet and phones to complete sales. The one thing that he always had was Cerebral Palsy, but he never used this as an excuse for taking welfare. Bill’s left arm was useless and he walked with a bad limp, but that never slowed him down mentally. Porter refused to go on welfare and found his calling at Watkins Inc. Bill Porter, an American salesman who walked ten miles with Cerebral Palsy daily, shows true patience and persistence, making him a true hero.

The cover to the movie Door-To Door (
The cover to the movie Door-To Door (

At the age of seventy-seven, Bill Porter has worked through hardship and success, with family and friends. Born with Cerebral Palsy, on September 9, 1932, Bill Porter had selling in his blood. His father, Ernest Porter, was also a door-to-door salesman. While growing up, Bill’s mother, Irene, would never let Bill use his disorder as an excuse. She taught Bill to be patient, persistent and optimistic. At the age of 17, Bill’s mother enrolled him in high school. In 1962 Bill’s father died, forcing Bill to bring in money for him and his mother. Even after Porter had been told to just stay home and take welfare, he refused and looked for a job himself. He found a job with Watkins, the nation’s oldest door-to-door company. In 1985 Bill hired Shelly Brady to deliver packages and help around his house. Over the years they went from employee and employer to good friends. Four years later, in 1989, Irene died of Alzheimer’s. This left Bill with only Shelly around for support. In 1993, Porter had no income because he was recovering from back surgery. Shelly bought his house and rented it back to him for almost nothing. In 1997, Bill’s career was almost ended when he got hit by a car. One year later, 20/20 had an interview with Porter and his life as a salesman. In 2002 the movie “Door-to-Door” was released in theaters.

After the death of both his parents, Bill Porter still worked hard and pushed for success. He pushed for all his sales, new or old customers: “’The next customer will say yes.’ Many did- even if Porter had to work on them for years. ‘He just never takes rejection personally.’ Says Watkins President Mark Jacobs. ‘He’s relentless. He’s irresistible,’” (Horsburgh 1). The determination and persistence Bill Porter had toward what must be done was outstanding. Even the president of Watkins admired his ability to stay on the positive side of his sales.

When his mother, Irene, passed away, Bill still worked hard with little hesitation: “Porter had to ask the bellhops at a downtown hotel to take one of her (Irene’s) tasks- buttoning his collar and attaching his clip-on tie each morning,” (Horsburgh 1). Once more Bill’s persistence is shown by how he could take control of negative situations. While someone else might have walked away and quit, Porter put a slight change to his daily agenda and kept on working. Persistence is only one of the many reasons Bill Porter has shown to be a great man and an even greater hero.

Even after back surgery and being hit by a car, Porter still worked for Watkins Inc. as a salesman. After many years Bill and his assistant Shelly Brady became great friends.

“In 1993, after a five month recovery from back surgery left him without any income and unable to make his payments, Shelly and her husband John, scraped together enough cash to buy his house (Bill’s) and rent it back to him for nearly nothing,” (Horsburgh 1). Not only had Shelly helped him, but being as patient as usual, Porter got back on his feet and started working. Through the pain and suffering Bill Porter pushed through and found that a close friend would be even closer than ever expected. Dedication and patience will take you a long way, and Bill Porter is living proof of that.

“At seventy-seven years old, Porter works online for Watkins, now for almost fifty-five years and makes his sales online at, through Watkins and is on his to becoming a rich man,”(Heller and Prasso 1). Being seventy-seven years old and still selling Watkins products shows his patience and love for this company. However, the true patience and dedication is shown by the fifty-five years Bill Porter spent working for the same company even through global changes.

Ten Things I Learned from Bill Porter cover (
Ten Things I Learned from Bill Porter cover (

Bill Porter is a hero because patience and persistence helped him on his way to success.

“In 1995 a column about Porter in The Oregonian was widely reprinted and made Porter a popular symbol of optimistic determination" ( The inspiration that people saw and read about helped people look at what’s important in life. One more way Bill Porter has spread inspiration is through a simple employer-employee relationship that turned to a strong friendship: “Ten Things I Learned from Bill Porter, an inspirational book by Shelly Brady. From slammed doors to Cerebral Palsy, family deaths to painful injuries, Porter persevered until he had his own branch of a major company’s website. Bill Porter never gave up, even with the easy route of welfare; Porter pushed through and continues to do so.

Page created on 5/30/2010 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 10/6/2018 7:36:39 PM

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Related Links

Bill Porter Online - gives you a chance to see what Porter does