The Rev. Mr. James A. Potter

The Rev. Mr. James A. Potter

Passed on Friday, 10 February 2012

Rev. James Albert Potter 1927 - 2012 WESTFIELD - Rev. James Albert Potter was born on March 16, 1927, in Hopkinton, MA, the youngest of four children. After graduation from Tufts University he began work as a salesman for Lever Brothers and married Joan Evelyn Miller two years later in 1949. Though successful, he decided to return to school and prepare for the ministry.

Accordingly, he graduated from Bangor Theological Seminary in 1953. Thereafter, he served a succession of churches in the East and Midwest as a Congregational UCC minister: in Lewiston, ME; Sangerville, ME; Danville, VT; Villa Park, IL; Bunker Hill, IL; Hardwick, VT; and Feeding Hills, MA.

Two years after his retirement in 1982, he became restless and returned to part-time work; for the next ten years he served as a chaplain for Heritage Nursing Home and Noble Hospital. And after that latest "retirement," he continued to serve in occasional ministerial roles for several more years.

Throughout his professional life and beyond, Reverend Jim had been active in social justice work and service to the community. In Vermont he was active for many years and was eventually celebrated for his service to OCCSA (the Orleans County Council of Social Agencies); he served terms as president of local Kiwanis Club in Hardwick, VT; in Westfield he has been active in the local Historical Society; he volunteered in Westfield elementary schools and served as mentor to various children; he was a Food Bank board member in South Hadley; and in 2003 he was given the award of Bangor Alumnus of Distinction, a "lifetime achievement" award of which he was particularly proud.

Rev. Jim was always a "people person" and his interests were wide-ranging, including gourmet cooking, reading, and card games. He enjoyed cruising, camping, travel abroad, and, more recently, Elderhostel trips. He accomplished all this and more despite a devastating spinal cord injury in 1964 that left him mostly paralyzed below the waist. Instead of retiring from the world of work and life, in general, he fought back, learning to drive cars with hand controls, for example, and serving as a model for people who are, in fact, "differently abled"! He lived a vigorous, engaged life in all eight of his decades.

After his wife Joan died in 1992, he married Margaret Canton in 1994, who survives him today. He is also survived by three children, a son, Kenneth (wife, Claudette) of Madison, WI, and twin daughters, Marcia and Marilyn, both in Westfield; also, two step-children, Wendy Pucci of Brooklyn, CT; and Kathy Riddle (husband, Bobby) of West Springfield, MA; and six grandchildren: Aaron Potter, Elizabeth Potter, Devin Riddle, and Dylan, Dalton, and Danny Reel.

The family asks that memorial gifts in Rev. Jim's name be given to the Christmas Fund (formerly the Veterans of the Cross), an aid organization for impoverished or otherwise needy retired clergymen. The address is the Christmas Fund, c/o MACUCC, Western/Central Regional Office, 51 Center St., Box 443, Ludlow, MA 01056.

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