Rich Port*, the 1970 president of the National Association of Real Estate Boards, was the first of a new breed of Association leaders who knew instinctively that the decade of the 1970s was the time for REALTORS® to become aggressive in the political arena and to raise their professional profile before the general public.
One of the most important goals of his administration was the promotion of the REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC). Formally organized in 1969, RPAC named Mr. Port its first lifetime member.
Equally important to Mr. Port were the image and status of REALTORS® and protection of the term REALTOR® both as trademark and a symbol of integrity, professionalism and dedication to a strict code of ethics.
Mr. Port’s enthusiasm for the REALTOR® identification knew no bounds. After a long campaign, the 1969 edition of Webster’s International Unabridged Dictionary corrected the listing of the term REALTOR®. That edition, and all subsequent ones, defined REALTOR® as a collective trademark used for members of the National Association, and not a generic term interchangeable with real estate broker.
Mr. Port saw the need to make the public aware of what a REALTOR® was and what the Association stood for. He believed the best way to gain attention was through a media marketing campaign utilizing a well-known personality as a spokesperson. Popular movie and television star Laraine Day was chosen and an intense media campaign was mounted behind her.
“Make America Better” was the REALTOR® program chosen to represent NAR’s efforts on behalf of American homeowners and Miss Day appeared on many major television shows promoting it. Mr. Port felt that civic and community involvement added “a new dimension to the term REALTOR®.”
A champion of free enterprise and patriotism, Mr. Port was convinced that free enterprise is one of our most priceless possessions. “Our flag represents man’s most noble dream and patriotism is a solidly based virtue,” he said.
He saw to it that REALTORS® took a leadership role in the fight against environmental pollution. Under his presidency, NAR offered assistance to local boards in combating pollution because “REALTORS®’ daily concern is the land and the environment of which it is a part…”
Opposing excessive government spending at all levels, Mr. Port accused the Nixon Administration of bringing the real estate industry to its knees. “The tortured economic and sociological philosophies of recent years have developed a grab-borrow-and-spend psychosis resulting in insatiable inflation,” he added.
Mr. Port saw the need for savings incentives and felt that it was essential that the nation develop a means of increasing savings not only as a source of capital for home financing, but also to “withdraw funds from the escalating stream of spending.” He proposed that a share of the interest from savings accounts be tax free.
Mr. Port recognized that elevation of the image of REALTORS® could best be served by raising the standards through education. This penchant for education resulted in numerous articles for several real estate publications aimed at improving REALTORS®’ ability to serve their clients. As further evidence of his belief in education, he was the founder and dean of the REALTORS® Institute of Illinois.
Mr. Port, a Chicago native, was chairman of Rich Port, REALTORS® in La Grange, Ill. He was recognized as one of America’s “Ten Greatest Salesmen” in Robert Shook’s 1978 book of the same name. He was also a past president of the American Chapter, International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI-USA).
Mr. Port attended Western Military Academy, the University of Illinois, and St. Norbert College.
Source: Presidents of the National Association of REALTORS®, (Chicago: NAR, 1980).