CINCINNATI — Todd Portune made an enormous positive impact on many people he served and came to know in nearly three decades of public service as a Cincinnati City Councilmember and Hamilton County Commissioner.
So it was an emotional day Downtown as hundreds came to the visitation and memorial service for Portune Monday at the Duke Energy Center.
Sharon Woods remembers him as a “friend” and a “hero.” It’s why she had to be there to pay her final respects.
“I was invited to his swearing-in. We always had the same walker, and we always teased each other about the walker,” Woods said.
“I just got out of the hospital last Friday and had to come. I couldn’t have missed this for nothing in the world. I shouldn’t be here, but I’m here.”
Woods said Portune’s love of family and community touched her life. Others, including Mary and Tyler Villier, expressed the same feeling.
“He was my godsend,” said Mary.
The Villier family attended church with Portune, and Portune helped Tyler with his Eagle Scout project.
“He was willing to help in anyway,” Tyler said.
Mary was impressed by Portune’s determination to battle through the physical struggles he encountered in his life.
“He was a fighter. Nothing kept him down,” she said. “He struggled, we see the struggle, but he would always preserve. He was always fighting for it. Dedication, dedication to whatever he had.”
Local and state leaders said politicians have a lot to learn from Portune. They said his example – to listen, compromise and put the community first – is something so often missing today.
“Todd Portune was the epitome of a public servant,” said Tom Synan, Newtown police chief.
Portune supported many causes, including civil rights, infant mortality, multi-modal transportation and the environment.
“Todd always talked about the importance of transportation,” said former Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory. “That’s something that he lived, something that he dreamed about.”
Synan said Portune's legacy will be more than just the projects he supported. It’s the spirit he embodied.
“He didn’t like to see people suffer; he wanted to find a reasonable way to solve things,” Synan said.
“A lot of people think he was a politician, but he wasn’t. He went out and fought the wrongs and made them right. And what was so cool about Todd … Todd was not only generous, but he listened to people.”