3/16/1988: Mary Bea Porter saved a child’s life in the middle of a qualifying round

Mary Bea

On this day, In 1988 Mary Bea Porter saved a child’s life during a qualifying round…

At the Moon Valley Country Club located in Phoenix, Arizona, Porter was on the fourth hole, a par five, trying to qualify for the Standard Register Turquoise Classic.  While looking for her ball, Porter approached a fence along the course boundaries when she noticed a man on the other side quickly jump into a pool full of water. Struck by the odd scene, her concentration was quickly broken, and she realized there was a three year old boy lying face down in the water.  Without hesitation, Porter’s caddie, Wayne Sharpe, helped her over the six foot fence. She immediately ran toward the scene. What unfolds next is one of true heroism and bravery…

Mary Bea Porter

At this point, the man, Christian Smucker had pulled his son, Johnathan out of the water.  The Smucker family is part of an Amish community and were in town visiting the Phoenix area.  Porter saw a look of panic & confusion over Smucker’s face and immediately began administering CPR.  With no formal training, she looked like a professional, and before long the child regained his heartbeat, and began breathing as air filtered through his lungs.  The child began screaming and crying as he regained consciousness.  Moments later, the paramedics arrived to further evaluate the boy, and and the commotion started to calm down.

This was a unusual situation. Despite the fact that she still had 15 more holes to complete, through her heroic instinct, Porter rushed to the scene before she was able to fully evaluate what was going on.

”But the strangest thing about the incident with Jonathan,” Porter recalled, ”was that his parents didn’t know how to react emotionally. It’s against the Amish religion, I’m told, to show any affection or emotion publicly. The incident happened on a Wednesday, but when all the TV camera crews came around the next day, they didn’t know how to cope with it. So that Friday they went back to their home in Ronks, Pennsylvania, out near Harrisburg.”

-Mary Bea Porter

Little Boy leaves Hospital

Johnathon Smucker, just three years of age at the time, was a resident of Ronks, PA.  Once cleared to leave the hospital after further evaluation, Johnathon joined his cousins for a photograph. When Porter saw the photograph, she hardly recognized the boy whose life she had saved. She said that seeing the photograph of Johnathon smiling had helped her mentally

”It was taken that night after Jonathan got back from the hospital,” … ”When I saw that picture, it really helped me. Until then I still had this memory of his ugly gray color. I had no memory of his face. I was so focused on his mouth and his chest, I never saw what he looked like. But when I got the picture, here was this healthy, cute little boy.”

-Mary Bea Porter

Porter finished that day the Standard Register Turquoise Classic with a 76 and did not qualify for the event.  Only after thirty or so other LPGA professionals protested that she be let in, Porter received an exemption into the event from the LPGA Commissioner.

Later that year, Porter became the first recipient of the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association Mary Bea Porter Humanitarian Award for her heroic actions.  This award was sanctioned in her name to honor a heroic or humanitarian act that enhances human life. The same Association presented Porter-King this year with its MGWA Distinguished Service Award.

The Mary Bea Porter Award

Lorena Ochoa receiving the award & Mary Bea Porter King

The Mary Bea Porter Award recognizes an individual in golf who, through an heroic or humanitarian act, saves or betters the lives of others.

2015 Lauren Childs 2000 Matt Moore
2013 Kevin Hood 1999 Bill Lawler & Pat Norton
2012 Lorena Ochoa 1998 Mike Miller & Rob Turner
2011 Volunteers of American Lake 1997 Richard Palmer
2010 Major Dan Rooney 1996 John Nieporte & David Poteet
2009 DJ Gregory 1995 Greg Jones
2008 The Alan T. Brown Foundation 1994  Tara Fleming
2007 Pat Browne Jr 1993  Mike McHugh
2006 Dave Stevenson 1992 Joe Stencik
2005 Frank McLaughlin 1991 Joan Bertrand
2004 Charlotta Sorenstam 1990 Kathy Corbin
2003 Dennis Walters 1989 Mary Bea Porter & Greg Norman
2002  Mario DiPreta & Tony Ahmeti

Mary Bea Porter-King moved to Hawaii in 1989 after her marriage and helped found the Hawaii State Junior Golf Association. She was inducted into the Hawaii Golf Hall of Fame in 2004.  Porter-King was awarded the 2011 PGA First Lady of Golf Award by the PGA of America.

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