OMAK If Ryan Porter had a motto, one could say it was, “Let the good times roll.”
“He was just happiest having fun and making sure everybody else was having fun,” his mother, Dana DeLima, said.
Porter, 21, died early the morning of April 28 in a vehicle crash on Rodeo Trail Road. His life was celebrated during a three-day traditional Native American memorial service and funeral beginning May 1 at the Omak Longhouse with a community rosary, DeLima said.
Though Porter wasn’t a Native American himself, he had many friends within the Colville Confederated Tribes.
His friends went all out to organize the service, even bringing in Shakers from Yakima, she said.
“I bet he had a big old smile on his face,” she said. “I had no idea how many friends he had until we held the service.”
A family rosary was on April 30.
As much as Porter was about fun, his biggest focus was on family, his mother said.
When he was 17, he left DeLima’s house in Spokane to come back to Omak to be closer to his brother and sister, Dustin Hayes, 24, and Breanna Hayes, 25.
For four months last year he worked in Alaska’s fishing industry in Dutch Harbor, but when he took some time off to visit home he decided to stay “because he didn’t want to be away from family,” DeLima said.
“All my kids are very close, and Ryan is very close to his nieces and nephews,” of which he has five, ranging in ages from 1 to 7 years old, she said.
Instead of holding down a traditional job, Porter opted instead to help care for his siblings’ children. DeLima said he considered himself a “professional uncle.”
“He helped out – especially with my son, a lot – with the kids,” she said. “The happiest he was is when he was spending time with them. He had the biggest heart ever, and he liked to be helpful.”
Further proof that Porter didn’t take the beaten path in life – he attended Rogers High School in Spokane, but didn’t graduate.
“It was always a battle with Ryan,” she said. “He was at an age where he really didn’t know what he wanted to do.”
He may not have graduated, but he is well remembered among the staff.
“He made us pay attention to the fact that he needed more than books and pencils,” said teacher Barb Silvey. “He needed us, and we needed him.
“The other teacher (Steven Burns) teared up when I told him; so did I, for that matter. We both really liked him.”
“His smile was contagious, his mischievous laugh left you wondering what part of the joke you'd missed, but his eyes let you know he loved you,” Burns said.
Silvey said Porter was “opinionated” and liked to challenge his teachers.
“He was awfully afraid somebody was going to find out he was smart,” she said.
When he wasn’t helping around the house or caring for his nieces and nephews, he was with friends, playing video games or skateboarding, his mother said. In 2010, he even won a cage fighting bout in Malott.
“He was so proud, as was his brother and I,” DeLima said. “Ryan was a huge MMA fan, there wasn’t much he didn’t know about the fighters or the sport.”
Some of the words DeLima used to describe her son were “a simple guy, uncomplicated,” and “not materialistic.” Another of Porter’s strong qualities was his sense of humor.
“He was so good at making people laugh. He had no problem looking silly,” DeLima said.
“He was a funny guy, I gotta tell you. He was full of energy,” Silvey said.
Porter could recite the entire dialogue of a movie after seeing it only once, DeLima said, and he was a fiercely loyal friend.
“His friends called him their brother,” she said. “He didn’t go looking for trouble, but if one of his friends got in a scrape, Ryan would be the first one there to back him up.”
Porter was born Aug. 29, 1991, in Watertown, N.Y.
The family moved several times after Porter’s birth. In his 21 years he lived in Hayward, Calif., in Ashford and Madras, Ore., in Okanogan and then in Spokane before he ultimately moved back with his siblings.
The Chronicle was not able to reach other family members and friends for comment.
In the crash that killed Porter, the vehicle’s driver, Michael M. Moore, was arrested by Colville Tribal Police. The case has been referred to the Okanogan County Prosecutor’s Office, which is still reviewing it.