A Birthday To Savor

Scott Porten enjoying a past birthday and a cake made by Diane.

A good friend of mine sent me a nice text after last week’s blog.

It’s nice to hear from people who take the time out of their busy lives to spend a few minutes reading what you have to say.

My friend asked whether I write the blog in advance or the night before and the truth is I do both—it all depends on when and where the muse (or the news) strikes me.

He also said that he found inspiration in some of the tributes I have written to special people who have passed. All of this is good, and I am very thankful that my friend likes what I write, especially because he happens to be among the most well-read and curious people I’ve ever met. And I have met some curious and well- read people!

But it also struck me that I should write more about people before they pass on. We should show our admiration for those who enrich us while they are still here to appreciate us. In other words, if someone makes you happy tell them.

Which is a long-winded way of saying happy birthday to my friend Scott Porten.

I won’t say how old Scott is, but this birthday is a big one and it’s starts with an s. Hint: he’s not 70.

Inspired by our mutual friend Randy, I’m going to tell you about a very special person my family has come to know and love.

I met Scott 20 plus years ago when he was a young developer in a still redeveloping Delray Beach. Scott and his company did some landmark projects: The Estuary near Palm Trail and City Walk in Pineapple Grove are among the most memorable.

I admired both projects, not only for their quality and design but for the vision he exhibited.

Back in those days, Delray was not the no-brainer “sure thing” it would soon become, but a city trying to revitalize itself in the shadow of a successful neighbor—Boca Raton.

Scott’s two signature Delray projects showed faith in the future. The Estuary was in a part of town nobody wanted to touch in those days and City Walk was on a secondary street that was trying to forge an identity separate and distinct from Atlantic Avenue.

City Walk gave us Brule’ and Joseph’s and later Yama three excellent restaurants and several cool boutiques as well. The project featured beautiful residential units and replaced a coin-operated car wash in a part of Delray crying out for investment.

The building had a distinctive design and I think still looks good all these years later. I remember someone commenting at the time that the building didn’t have a pool or other traditional amenities and Scott saying that the street itself would be an amenity. That was a bold statement. But he was right.

I think Pineapple Grove may be my favorite street in all of Delray Beach—it seems to be a perfect blend of vibrant without being overwhelming, which come to think of it, describes my friend Scott.

Over the years, Scott and I have grown very close. He’s the kind of friend I’d call in the middle of the night not only because you can take his advice to the bank but also because he’s a night owl and he’ll take my call.

Scott is honest, intense (but in a good way), a devoted husband and father, a proud son and an all-around good guy. He has a terrific sense of humor, is scary smart and is fun to talk to about a wide array of subjects. And I mean a wide array: from politics and prostates to real estate and relationships, Scott can hold his own with just about anyone including our mutual friend Randy who is such a whirlwind of activity, learning and adventures that I would get tired typing up his itinerary for a given month. (If it’s Tuesday he must be mastering the guitar or sailing the Greek Isles).

They say you are a product of the five people you hang out with the most and if that’s true, I have a decent shot at a good life because Scott is easily in the top five.

They also say that you make the strongest friendships in childhood when you have the time and space to hang out. Many of you know that I still enjoy the friends I made as a kid growing up in Long Island. But I’ve been truly blessed to make such good friends in middle age. Scott is at the top of that list.

I enjoy people who care about things deeply…who are passionate about what they are passionate about.

Scott and I share a love for business, real estate, Delray Beach, local organizations, sports, and music. We also love restaurants that have great bars where you can sit and debate the day’s events.

We enjoy and practice the art of conversation and like to talk about our lives, children, past adventures and future hopes and aspirations. Dare I say it, but we also like to talk about how we feel about things. The old stereotype is men don’t like to “emote” or share. But guess what? Real men do—within reason of course— because we are not above calling each other out or poking fun at our weaknesses. Friends are also adept at making sure we keep our feet on the ground. Scott is good at keeping our circle anchored.

I admire so much about him but especially his desire to take care of people. He’s sincere, caring and consistently goes the extra mile. He does so many things so well.
He’s also a convener and has lunch clubs, happy hour groups and breakfast clubs that serve to keep disparate groups of friends together.

About the best thing I can say is that Scott Porten is a mensch, which is the highest compliment you can pay someone. A mensch is a person of integrity and honor. According to the great American humorist Leo Rosten, a mensch is “someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character.”

That’s my friend to a T.

Happy birthday Scott and a tip of the hat to the legendary Randy Smith for the inspiration to write about our buddy.


  1. Mark Denkler says

    Happy Birthday Scott. Jeff, I Always look forward to your weekly writes. People always ask me what makes Delray so special. I always say it’s the people. Keep recognizing those who contribute back to the city.

  2. Well said Jeff. I too am blessed to call Scott and his wife Melissa my friends. Friendship bonded by our mutual love of this town and the people in it. Happy birthday to Scott! See you all soon around a table breaking bread and maybe sharing a toast!

  3. Happy Birthday to Scott! One of my favorites in Delray also. He has done so much for this City that most will never know. Thanks for acknowledging him and the man he is!

  4. Frances Bourque says

    Happy ( little “s “ ) Birthday to a definitely TOP Five friend, whose conversations, advice, brilliant descriptions of people and events, we share, brutality descriptive comments of moments and expectations and the value of hope mixed with truth and reality! Sometimes , my hope is 60% and Scott’s reality is 40%. But it is fine, together we make it 100%!!
    People like you two are the gravity that pulls is together! Maybe like the Moon and the Earth!
    My little”sses” have passed, but happily not without you two in my life!
    And Scott ALWAYS calls back!!!


  5. Happy Happy Birthday to Scott – one of our City’s true Treasures! Hope this is Your Best Year Yet…

  6. Wow, I’ve never had such nice things written about me. I particularly appreciate you creatively included my prostate into the homage. You are truly a best friend who has made my past 20 years so special. There is a lot more for us to do and experience so I’m really looking forward to our next 20.

    Thank You!

  7. Debbie Stackhouse says

    Great job as always Jeff! You captured Scott perfectly, and of course Randy got good press as well!

  8. Noreen Payne says

    What a well deserved love fest for one of the best around! Happy Birthday Scott, am grateful for your friendship as well!

  9. Bill Bathurst says

    It’s all about the people , their visions and the culture created . Happy Birthday scott and thanks for all you have done

  10. Here’s to two of the best that make this town so special. Jeff and Scott, you help make Delray the town all the others are jealous of!

  11. First – Happy Birthday Scott, and may you have many more ! Second, I think Scott may be a real life “Wizzard of Oz” for all that he has done (and is doing) to shape the place we call “Delray”. Remember the line – “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” – it fits. Scott is one of those people who knows how to work behind the curtain and out of the public view because he really doesn’t care about accolades and recognition. He just wants to make his hometown a better place.

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