Jung Ok Porter, known to friends as “June,” died peacefully in her sleep on Sunday, March 1, 2020 at the age of 84 due to health complications from Parkinson’s disease.
Born in North Korea, Jung Ok was the fourth of eight children. Her family’s world changed dramatically when communists began persecuting Christians in North Korea, leading her family to escape to South Korea when she was a young child. Her family struggled to survive during WWII and the Korean War, and she helped her family earn money by knitting baby socks and selling American chocolates and cigarettes on the black market. Later, she worked as a housekeeper for a group of American Army nurse officers. After learning a little English, she found a job inventorying candy at a military post exchange, which is how she earned enough money to attend high school.
As a young adult, she worked as a telephone operator and as a clerk typist on an Army base, where she met her future husband from West Virginia, Army soldier Robert Andrew Porter, known to friends and family as “Bob” or “Bobby.” They were married at the American Embassy in Seoul and left South Korea for the US in 1965. Jung Ok proudly earned her US citizenship in 1968 in Kansas City, Missouri.
She served as an Army wife, frequently relocating domestically and internationally and caring for her three small children while Bob served two tours in Vietnam. In 1973, her husband retired from the Army in Atlanta, Georgia after 20 years of service. They moved from Atlanta to Tehran, Iran in 1975 where she and her husband worked for Bell Helicopter International, frequently traveling back to the US and around Europe until the family was evacuated out of the country in early 1979 just prior to the Iranian Revolution.
After returning to the US and living briefly in New Orleans, Louisiana, the family moved to Texas in 1981. Jung Ok called herself a Texan and lived in Amarillo and later in Harlingen for a combined total of 33 years, enjoying her job in Amarillo with the American Quarter Horse Association. After retirement, she spent many years in Harlingen leading Bible study groups for BSF International and participating in a small prison ministry for death row inmates.
Her husband, who last worked for Lockheed Martin in Harlingen, Texas passed away in 1994 after suffering a heart attack at age 58. In 2014, she made the decision to move to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to be closer to her daughter due to health concerns. Shortly after, she was formally diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Over the course of nearly six years, she toughed it out, progressing from walking with a cane to being completely immobile, but always with a sharp mind and a tenacious spirit.
Jung Ok is preceded in death by her father, Sung Kil Pak and her mother, Sung Ai Chae; her husband, Robert Andrew Porter; three sisters, Jung Sook Pak, In Sook Pak and Hyong Sook Pak; two sisters-in-law, Barbara Doss and Rheta Stafford, and brother-in-law, Carl Porter. She is survived by her three children, Marsha Porter Ramsey (Ken), Baton Rouge, LA; Troy Porter, Portland, OR; Jim Porter (Melaine), Richmond, VA; two grandchildren, Christian Brandt Porter, Dallas, TX and Jordan Paul Ramsey, Baton Rouge LA; sisters Sun Ok Kelleher (Ron) and Ninita Pak, Seattle, WA; brothers James Pak (Jennifer) and Un Jun Pak (Sun Ae), Seattle, WA; sister-in-law Bonnie Lowe (Ed), Buford, GA and numerous nieces and nephews.
The family wishes to thank the angelic caregivers at Fidelis White Road in Denham Springs and Pinnacle Hospice and Southside Gardens in Baton Rouge for their love and support of “Ms. June” over the many years she was in their care.
A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, March 14, 2020 at 10 a.m., Buck Ashcraft Funeral Home, 710 N Ed Carey Drive, Harlingen, TX with Pastor Chris Hall officiating. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Jung Ok’s memory to BSF International or The Parkinson’s Foundation.
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