MCALLEN, Texas – I would like to add my personal tribute to Deborah Portman, the IBC Bank Vice President who recently passed away after a long illness.

Deborah, who was based in Austin, Texas, was the Rio Grande Guardian’s banker when Melinda Barrera and I turned our fledgling publication into a limited liability company in May 2007. She would remind me of this over the years, that she played a key role when we set out on this wild venture.

Perhaps because she was a native of South Texas, Deborah took a keen interest in how our publication was doing. She was always courteous, kind, and interested. Yes, when the occasion demanded it, she could be tough. Which banker is not? In a firm manner, she would tell me when our overdraft limit was being reached and that we needed to get more ads.

However, Deborah always had our back. She wanted us to succeed and always asked how things were going, always telling me to pop in and see her whenever I was in Austin. I did not do this enough. When I did it was clear, as others have remarked, that for Deborah family came first. She would tell me about life growing up in Laredo, Texas, and how her family was. 

IBC used to run a billboard alongside I-35 in Austin that featured Deborah. It referred to IBC Bank as the “hometown” bank. And that was what the bank was during Deborah’s time there. I considered Deborah a friend and a mentor. I am sure she had much bigger and better accounts than ours but she always gave her valuable time to us. I will miss her greatly.

Here is the official obituary for Deborah:

PORTMAN, Deborah Snyder June 18, 1951 – January 5th, 2021

It is with deep sorrow and much love that we mourn the passing of our mother, Deborah Snyder Portman, who peacefully left this earth surrounded by her family. 

Born Susan Laura Deborah Snyder to Sophia Rosenbaum Snyder and John Andrew Snyder, she grew up sister to Robert and John Snyder in Laredo, Texas. Deborah, known as Debbie to many and Nini to her grandchildren, was the life of every party, exuding a grace that lit up every room. 

As a child, you could always find her in the ballet studio if she wasn’t on the baseball diamond. Deborah attended Laredo’s Martin High School where she developed countless lifelong friendships. An acclaimed student and public speaker, she was recognized by the Governor of Texas as Outstanding Teenager of the Year. 

Deborah Synder Portman

Deborah furthered her studies and classical ballet training at Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland. She returned to her native Laredo after graduating with a Bachelor of Arts and dedicated herself to community. 

Having grown up bilingual on the U.S./Mexico border, Deborah’s aura drew everybody in. She made you feel like the most important person on Earth, always quick with a compliment or regalito. Perhaps her charm was on its fullest display as Martha Washington, who she represented in Laredo’s famed Washington Birthday Celebration Pageant. She also served as president of the WBCA, overseeing the international event in true Laredo style. 

For 16 years Deborah worked for the International Bank of Commerce in Austin, where she moved to be closer to her grown children. She grew with the bank from its infancy in the Capitol City, rising through the ranks to serve as First Vice President. She touched the lives of thousands upon thousands in her two decade tenure, the true embodiment of relationship banking. Debbie, after all, never knew a stranger. 

Nothing gave Deborah more joy than family, and she always made you feel like part of hers. She was the mother of four surviving children, Michael David Portman, Elizabeth Portman Minne, John Robert Portman and Thomas Andrew Portman. For 29 years she was married to Michael Don Portman. Her kids would go on to bless her with the eight grandchildren she adored above all else. Finley, Everett, Lucie, Mila, Ani, Ella, Arthur and Oliver will never forget their beloved Nini. 

Deborah strongly believed that kindness, above all else, is what counts most. She was a natural leader, a spiritual person, and a friend to all. She was also tough as nails, beating cancer and going on to pass in the embrace of those she touched most deeply. 

In remembrance of Deborah, her family has set up a memorial fund to support the amazing work done by Ballet Austin, whose board she sat on for 15 years. Please visit to make a gift to honor her legacy. Checks can be sent via mail to Ballet Austin, 501 West 3rd Street, Austin, TX 78701. Please make out to the Ballet Austin Foundation and note “Deborah Snyder Portman Memorial Fund.” 

If you have a special memory you would like to share about Debbie, please go to you have a special memory you would like to share about Debbie, please go to to record it We will be sharing the videos at a Celebration of Life in Austin this summer on her birthday, June 18th. If you would like to be kept posted on details of the event, please email [email protected]

As Deborah said in her final wishes: “Take care of each other and be kind to one another.” 

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.

Published in Austin American-Statesman on Jan. 13, 2021.

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