In Memoriam: Frederick V. Porfilio
by Mr. Joseph Ferrara
20 Years Later
1939 – 1990
“Our Lady loves us!” In the moments when the daily routine was the most difficult, one could often hear these words escaping the lips of fellow TFP member, Frederick Vincent Porfilio, better know as “Mr. Fred.” He had a keen notion of man’s contingency and the need of an unlimited confidence in the maternal solicitude and intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Mr. Fred was born of Italian immigrants in New York on September 28, 1939 and lived most of his life in the Bronx. He was a man of many talents and tried his hand at several professions. He was a taxi cab driver, carpenter, Army paratrooper, bartender and even an actor. The fact that he never persevered in any of them was a sure sign that Providence had other designs for this soul that would one day selflessly dedicate itself to the cause of defending Christian civilization.
When Mr. Fred met The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) in 1975, he had already discerned the emptiness of everything the world had to offer him. Like the prodigal son returning to his father’s house, he left the world behind to embrace once again the Faith of his ancestors.
He once confided to me that, when he was aspiring to an acting career, he had to put on airs to impress the “talent sharks.” Seeing the hypocrisy in this, Mr. Fred resolved one evening to tell his would-be mentors what he really thought of them, thus closing the door forever on his acting career. Many years later, Mr. Fred would put his acting skills to good use in plays and skits for friends, youth and supporters at TFP conferences.
Mr. Fred stood out for his readiness and dedication to the many duties required of TFP members. He excelled in street campaigning and could always be counted on to shout slogans, sell magazines or distribute fliers. He was also ready to travel across the country and back when duty called.
Among his many talents were his carpentry skills. He made everything from beds to kneelers and even a huge medieval banquet table. As every good Italian, he was often found in the kitchen providing a tasty repast.
In the last years of his life, Mr. Fred stood out for his leadership qualities. He was asked to lead a “caravan,” a group of young volunteers, which would travel the country in a massive petition drive collecting signatures for the independence of Lithuania. In 1990, Lithuania sought freedom from the tyranny of Soviet communism. In a worldwide effort, the TFPs collected more than five million signatures, across five continents, in what the 1993 Guinness Book of World Records termed the largest verifiable petition drive in history.
During this singular campaign initiative, the TFP caravans put in many miles and exhausting hours driving and visiting cities all across America. The caravans in the United States alone collected more than 800,000 signatures. During the long days, and the nights, the members were giving their all.
During this campaign, Mr. Fred was an example of dedication and enthusiasm. It was also at the height of this true service to Christian civilization that Divine Providence called Mr. Fred through a tragic car accident. On September 3, 1990, Mr. Fred died as a passenger in a van that accidentally went off the road and turned over in Tennessee.
God also called to Himself a young member of the caravan, Daryl Huang, who was the son of Chinese immigrants and was most dear to Our Lady in the short service he rendered to her cause.
On the twentieth anniversary of their deaths, The American TFP, its friends and supporters remember these two valiant souls and make their own the words and sentiments of TFP founder Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira who considered them as “two lilies that Our Lady harvested from the garden of the American TFP.”