Posted on: November 9, 2023
Calvin Porter Claxton, Jr. died peacefully at the age of 88 at Mission Hospital, where he spent endless hours during his career as a cardiothoracic surgeon.
Porter was born April 20, 1935 in Knoxville, TN to the late Calvin Porter Claxton, Sr. and Laura Evelyn Mabry Claxton. His sister, Claire Presley and brother, Brooks Claxton predeceased him. His wife of 59 years, Martha Ann Mahanes Claxton, died in 2020. He is survived by his five children and many grandchildren: Claire Childers and husband, Scott and children, Kristen, Zack, and Sam; Calvin Claxton III and wife, Nikki and children, David, Christian, Laura, and Claudia; James Claxton and wife, Melissa and children, Cecilia, Danielle, Shelby, and Trista; Becky Welch and husband, Wayne, and children Nick, Hannah, Natalie, and Brian; and Doug Claxton and wife, Katie, and son, Everest.
Through his school-age years, he lived in Carrollton, GA and Panama, though he spent most of his young adulthood in Arlington, Va., where he attended Fairlington Elementary School, Dolly Madison Junior High School, and Washington-Lee High School. He was an athlete and active in student government.
He graduated from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where he received a degree in Biological Sciences and played football and baseball. He was a member of the Student Activities Committee, Honor Commission, and Beta Theta Pi Fraternity, and he was also elected to Omicron Delta Kappa Honorary Society. In 1957, he matriculated at the University of Virginia Medical School and received his doctorate of medicine in 1961. Martha Ann Mahanes was a classmate, and on the day of graduation, June 4, 1961, they were married.
Porter completed a seven-year surgical residency at Duke University Medical Center, where he eventually became the chief resident in the Department of General and Cardiothoracic Surgery. As a result of a Berry Plan deferment, Porter was obligated for duty in the U.S. Army at the end of his residency in 1968. He was assigned to the 130th Station Hospital in Heidelberg, Germany. His family joined him, and they found a villa in the small town of Neckargemund, ten kilometers from the hospital. Porter made Lt. Col. and was chief of the Department of Surgery.
In 1972, the opportunity came for Porter to join Dr. Charles Keller and Dr. Mac Mauney in a private cardiothoracic surgical practice in Asheville, NC. Coming to Asheville allowed him to live in the mountains and fulfill his professional dream. Over the ensuing 28 years, Porter helped the practice to expand and to become a premier center for managing heart disease. Along with cardiologists from Mission Hospital, he developed and advanced coronary bypass and heart valve replacement procedures. He retired from surgical practice at the end of 2000.
After living across the street from the hospital for four years, Porter and Martha Ann found a 60-acre tract in Weaverville, NC where they could have land with animals and raise their children, and they built a log house there in 1976. Soon the green hillsides turned to pasture, and as their passion for farming grew, they developed a registered Polled Hereford cattle farm. The farm became certified and accredited by the State of North Carolina and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Over the years, they were also able to grow the farm to a total of 600 acres, which included an old tobacco barn that became a site for wedding and corporate picnic events in 1997. Porter and Martha Ann considered themselves stewards of the land, and in keeping with their commitment to preserve their part of the beautiful western NC mountains, they placed 480 acres in an agricultural conservation easement with the Southern Appalachian Highland Conservancy and the State of North Carolina in 2009.
After his retirement from medicine, Porter continued his passion for the farm, Polled Hereford cattle, and the Claxton Farm event site. With the involvement of his family, the operation continues to flourish. All five of his children live on the farm and participate in its care.