Thomas L. “Pidney” Porterfield
T. L. “Pidney” Porterfield was a student, coach, and administrator during his lifetime of devotion to Emory & Henry College. He was inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame as a charter member in recognition of his many years of service as Athletic Director.
Porterfield excelled as a quarterback and was president of the Honor Court during his undergraduate days at Emory & Henry. He did his graduate work at George Peabody College and the University of Illinois. He came back to Southwest Virginia and became a successful football coach at Virginia High School in Bristol before returning to Emory & Henry to serve as head football coach in 1938.
In 1941, Porterfield was appointed Business Manager and Director of Athletics at the college, and is responsible in-part for sustaining the college through a decline in enrollment during World War II through the establishment of a military training program on campus. As an athletic director, he also aided in the establishment of the I-HEY fund, which stands for I Help Every Year, and provides significant financial support to the college’s athletic programs. Porterfield held those administrative positions until his retirement in 1972 after 33 years of service to Emory & Henry.
Porterfield’s civic engagements included lobbying for better public schools in Washington County. He also served as vice-chairman of the Virginia State Hospital Board, a member of the Board of Directors of the Johnson Memorial Hospital and Farmers Exchange Bank of Abingdon, and president of Holston Furniture Company of Glade Spring, Virginia.
The 1964 Emory & Henry yearbook was dedicated in his honor and in 1966, the E&H Alumni Association issued him The Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his leadership, fiscal responsibility, public service, and long-standing devotion. In 1971, even while he was an active staff member, the college conferred on him the honorary degree of Doctorate of Humane Letters. In 1970, the conference room in the King Center was dedicated in his name, and the Thomas Lilburn Porterfield Achievement Award, given annually to an outstanding male athlete at the college, was established in his honor.
T. L. Porterfield was born on March 9, 1906 and died on June 20, 1974 at the age of 68.