A Family Man

May 23rd, 2012

Joe Potter ’84 was a truly remarkable man (Obituaries, March/April). Brown was where he wanted to go to college, and his father, not a wealthy man, agreed that Joe should turn down a full scholarship from the University of Connecticut. They’d somehow manage Brown. He should follow his heart. This was decades before need-blind admission.

At Brown, Joe majored in economics and was a superb athlete—an All-Ivy quarterback and cocaptain of the football team. Graduate school at UCLA and an MBA followed, and he went to work on Wall Street. At a party he met an outgoing, talented graphic designer who did work for my company and others and was a treasured friend of mine, Carol Mills. They married and had first a daughter and, soon after, a son.

Joe was a family man and, after a few years of late nights on Wall Street, he told Carol he wanted to move to the country, where they could have supper with their kids every night. She agreed, and Joe went back to school to qualify as a grade school teacher. He wanted to focus on kids in their formative stage—to set them on a course of purpose and happiness. His teaching went beyond the lessons of the books, the blackboard, and his words of wisdom. He organized programs outside the classroom to introduce boys and girls alike to the joys of athletics, being sure they partook in the team experiences of lacrosse, soccer, baseball, basketball, and football.

Upon Joe’s death, Carol received from his students’ parents scores of letters, phone calls, and personal visits praising his influence on their children and telling her how much they loved him—with scores of heartwarming stories. Joe Potter delivered big time on the intent of Brown’s founders, who in 1764 specified their intent to preserve “in the community a succession of men duly qualified for discharging the offices of life with usefulness and reputation.”

Robert Fearon ’51
New York City

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Related Issue
May/June 2012