Obituaries of note: Bill Porter, door-to-door salesman; Stan Tracey, British jazz musician

Bill Porter


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Bill Porter, a door-to-door salesman in Portland, Ore., who was played by William H. Macy in an Emmy-winning TV movie, died Dec. 3 in a Portland hospital. He was 81.

The Oregonian newspaper reported that he died of an infection.

Mr. Porter, who had cerebral palsy and spoke and walked with great difficulty, spent decades walking through Portland neighborhoods selling J.R. Watkins food and household products. For years, Mr. Porter was Watkins’s top retail salesman in a four-state region. His story made its way to Reader’s Digest and ABC’s “20/20.”

When he was young, the state considered him unemployable, but he refused to accept disability payments.

In 2003, Macy portrayed Mr. Porter in the movie “Door to Door,” which won four Emmys.

Stan Tracey

British jazz musician

Stan Tracey, a jazz pianist who played with everyone from Sonny Rollins to Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones and who was a major force in British jazz for more than 60 years, died Dec. 6. He was 86.

A son, Clark Tracey, confirmed the death. The cause was cancer.

Mr. Tracey took up piano after playing the accordion to entertain troops during World War II. He performed with the popular Ted Heath Orchestra and spent several years in the 1960s as resident pianist at Ronnie Scott’s storied London jazz club. That job allowed him to play with the era’s jazz greats, including Stan Getz, Ben Webster and Rollins, with whom he performed on the soundtrack to the 1966 Michael Caine film “Alfie.”

As well as leading his own ensembles of various sizes, Mr. Tracey had a stint in the big band led by Stones drummer Watts.

Mr. Tracey also composed many tunes and was an inspiration to generations of younger musicians. Known as “the godfather of British jazz,” he was named a commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 2008.

— From news services

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