By Tim Leeds/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
Friends of a young Havre man who fell to his death from a building on the University of Montana campus remember him as an accomplished athlete, a talented musician and a fun person who was good with children.
Fellow Havre musician Mary Stevens said Nick Porter, 23, was "soft-spoken, very easy to talk to, easy to be around."
Porter, son of Gary and Sally Porter, was pronounced dead at a Missoula hospital Monday after he was found at the bottom of the fire escape of the five-story Social Sciences Building.
Missoula police Sgt. Travis Welsh said this morning that foul play is not suspected. An investigation to determine how he fell is continuing, Welsh said.
Porter was majoring in music at UM, and expected to graduate this spring. Family friend Claudia Howard said he was very excited because he had won a concerto competition at the university in December, which gave him the opportunity to play the marimbas with the Missoula Symphony in March.
During the holiday break from school, he performed in the Alumni Extravaganza, an annual event to raise money to help Havre Public Schools. He and Stevens also put on a benefit concert to raise money for victims of the Dec. 26 tsunami.
"The benefit concert really showed his versatility," Stevens said.
Chris Inman, who coached Porter during his senior year on the Havre High School swimming team, said she had known him since he was a child. She coached him on the Havre Lions swim team when he first moved to Havre in the early 1990s.
"I have had him ever since he was 8 years old," Inman said.
He had worked for her at the community pool during summers.
"He was one of my longtime workers," Inman said, adding that he would always show up to help at the pool if she needed it.
"He was always willing to help people," she said.
Howard said she was very close to Porter.
"He had a ton of friends," she added. "He was not only a friend of my sons, but my friend. He was like a member of our family, and we will miss him in that way."
Stevens said she first got to know Porter when he played piano at church when he was about 8.
"I knew right then that he and I connected musically," she said. "We started playing some sacred jazz for Sunday services when he was in high school."
During high school, Porter competed on three state championship swim teams, and played in the high school jazz band, the Dixie band
and symphonic band.
"He was a real fun-loving kind of a guy," Howard said. "He always had a smile."
Stevens said Porter was a bit of a thrill-seeker as well. Last summer, he tried sky diving for the first time.
"I told him he was nuts, I'd rather he wouldn't do that, but he enjoyed it," she said.
He was a member of several UM bands, and traveled to Chattanooga, Tenn., last month and in 2001 to play with the marching band while the Grizzlies played in national football championship games.
Stevens said Porter worked with her this summer at piano parties - group piano classes she held in a party format.
"Working with Nick was really fun," she said. "He was great with kids. The two of us just meshed beautifully."
She said he always strove for perfection as a musician. Porter always wanted to play better, was always trying to improve.
"That's the mark of a good musician," she added.
She said she had hoped that once Porter graduated, he would move back to Havre and open a "full-blown studio" with her.
Stevens and Inman said Porter was very good with children.
"The little kids really looked up to him. He was a role model for the kids," Inman said.
She recalled that Porter refused to follow a doctor's orders and stop swimming while he healed from injuries he suffered in a car accident his senior year in high school. Porter continued to practice and competed on a third state championship team.
"All the kids really admired him and said they wanted to be just like Nick," she said.