Sara Lee Porter was born in Bearden, Arkansas on April 24,1936 to the late Fannie Allen and Willie Porter Sr. Sara was the fifth of 9 children. She was baptized in the Church of Christ. She later became a member of Cordova Church of Christ in 1997. She loved her church family. On February 12, 2022, Sara answered the call of our heavenly Father at the age of 85 years old.
The Porter family relocated to California in 1944 and eventually settled in Atwater as one of the first black families. Sara’s mother passed when she was 12 years old. As a result, she was tasked with taking care of her youngest brother, Curtis until her paternal grandmother arrived from Arkansas. This was her introduction to motherhood. Sara attended school in Merced County Union School District and later joined her older sister Ida in the Bay Area where continued her education.
Sara married at a young age and in 1953 had her first child, Renai. She returned to Atwater with her daughter. Sara always had a talent for hairdressing and practiced on family and friends. In addition to hairdressing she supported herself and her daughter by working as a domestic for a prominent Atwater family, the Hellers. Mrs. Heller, who was like a mother to her, taught her etiquette, cooking skills, appreciation for the finer things in life, along with encouraging her to attend beauty college in the future.
In April 1955, Sara married the late MSgt Jacob E. Winfield and had three more children, Michael, Cheryl and Brian. The family was transferred to Lockbourne AFB in Columbus, Ohio. Brian, her youngest child, passed away suddenly at 6 ½ months of age. Grief-stricken, Sara decided to work part-time as a housekeeper at the 40 Winks Motel. Her younger sister, Linnie, came to Columbus to assist with the care of her children.
The family returned to California in 1962. Sara was a stay-at-home mother and worked part time for Mrs. Heller. Mrs. Heller encouraged Sara to pursue her dream of opening her own hair salon. In 1968, Sara graduated from Merced Beauty College and received her Cosmetology license. She opened the first black hair salon in Atwater, Sara’s Softset. She had a thriving business! Sara was also a charter member of the Ebony Socialites, an all black female social club that donated to various charitable organizations.
Sara was blessed with a kind and loving heart, the gift of gab and an incredible sense of humor which made everyone laugh and endeared her to them even more. She was always a good listener and could speak on many topics. She willingly shared her wit and wisdom with family and friends alike. Sara had an unforgettable smile and was a stylish dresser. She loved her children very much and was a mother and a best friend to each of them.
Besides hairdressing, Sara was blessed with many other talents. She had the greenest of green thumbs. Her flowers and plants were beautiful. She was a fantastic cook. Her fried chicken, apple pies and corn pones were delicious! She taught herself how to crochet making doilies, hats, placemats and afghans that family members often requested. She had many interests. She enjoyed reading, watching/attending sports, going fishing, home decorating, collecting antiques and SH/Blue Chip stamps. Sara loved dogs, especially her lovable poodle Tonka who misses her dearly. While cleaning her house, she enjoyed listening and dancing to Miles Davis, Nancy Wilson, Dinah Washington, June Christy and Jimi Hendrix. She sure knew how to jam!
TSgt Lonnie Wyatte and Sara married in January 1973 and their union lasted 49 years. They spent one year in Kansas City and three years in Germany. At each location she worked at the base hair salon where her hair skills were constantly in demand. After returning to the States, they settled in Sacramento where she purchased J’s Beauty in North Highlands and once again had another successful enterprise. Sara eventually gave up being a business owner but continued to practice her profession by renting space in various salons. Because of her personality and expertise, her clients remained loyal and followed her wherever she practiced until she retired in 2015.
Sara loved and treasured her relationship with her three grandsons. Her entrepreneurial spirit, business savvy, comedic ability, and creativity lives on in them. She had an especially close relationship with her brother, Willie, who is two years younger. Growing up they were inseparable; they looked so much alike some thought they were twins. Childhood stories of their shenanigans are still laughed, talked and reminisced about today.
Sara is preceded in death by her parents, Willie Sr. and Fannie Porter; and three brothers, Marvin, John and Ira Porter. She leaves to share her memory her husband, Lonnie; son, Michael Winfield, Sr.; daughters, Renai Lovely and Cheryl Winfield; stepdaughter, Leah McBlane; step-granddaughter, Bonnie Blue McBlane; grandsons, Michael Winfield, Jr., Brian Lovely, Andrew Winfield; great grandsons, Michael-Mykai Winfield, Michael-Edward Winfield and Michael Winfield, III; sisters, Ida Reddrick, Linnie Porter; and brothers Willie Porter, Jr., Curtis Porter, Sr., along with a host of other beloved relatives and friends.