Norman Portanko, a remarkable figure in Neuquén, can look back at his almost 90 years with pride. From a young age, he had a clear goal of being part of the growth and development of his hometown. Born and raised in the modest town, he witnessed how Neuquén started to flourish and dreamed of being a part of that change.
In the 1940s, at the age of just ten, Norman experienced an important event for the city. The players of Boca Juniors visited Neuquén, and he had the privilege of witnessing it. He recalls with laughter how one player leaned out of a hotel window and shouted for them to let them know if the wolves arrived, referring to that street being the last one in the town.
Although Norman went to Buenos Aires to continue his studies, he never lost his connection with his beloved Neuquén. After twenty years away, he returned as a representative of the Olivetti company, selling typewriters and being one of the pioneers in setting up a television store in the area. He convinced people of the advantages of having a black and white television, even allowing them to try it out for a week, and many customers refused to return them.
Following the example of his sister and her husband, Norman decided to venture into the world of theater. He studied acting with teachers from Buenos Aires and even performed with the National Comedy Company. However, his true passion was always the transformation of Neuquén.
Norman Portanko became the city’s first councilman, dedicating his time and effort to legislate and create regulations for orderly development. He also founded the Sotomayor Portanko real estate agency, which transformed old farms into neighborhoods such as Don Bosco and Jardines del Rey, providing housing for newcomers.
In conclusion, Norman Portanko epitomized the strength and spirit of the people of Neuquén throughout his life. As the son of a Ukrainian immigrant, he carried in his blood the determination and desire for progress. From his real estate agency in the traditional Neuquén building, he witnessed how the city grew to the south and west, leaving behind the days of remoteness and lack of services.
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