A lasting impression

August 01, 2004

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail will run "A Life Remembered." The story will take a look back at a member of the community who died in the past week through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about William Barnett "Bill" Potter, who died July 22 at the age of 81. His obituary appeared in the July 24 edition of The Herald-Mail.

Lois Potter remembers the first time she saw her future husband coming toward her in the former McCrory's store in Valley Mall like it was yesterday.

"He looked so familiar," she said.

She soon realized that he was the same young man she had admired from afar as a 14-year-old girl more than three decades earlier - a handsome young man working on a street project near her family's home on Spruce Street.

After a few more encounters at McCrory's, where Lois then worked, they got acquainted and went out a few times. William B. Potter asked Lois to marry him in 1986.


Potter died July 22 at the age of 81 at his Laurel Street home, where he had lived with Lois for the past 18 years.

"We had a wonderful marriage," Lois said. "There was never a day I regretted it."

Potter worked for the City of Hagerstown for 32 years, including a stint as street superintendent from 1959 to 1974. He earned the respect of the men who worked with him and then for him.

"Bill was up through the ranks of the street department," said Hagerstown Mayor William M. Breichner, who knew and worked with Potter during their years together working for the city. "He was liked by his men and had a real knack for the work."

In recent years, Breichner said he often would see Potter walking through the North End and always would wave when he went by.

On the occasion of Potter's retirement in April 1974, he was treated to a farewell party, where a special gift of a scrapbook of pictures, clippings and other memorabilia was presented to him by his first wife, the late Magdaline "Deanie" Potter.

"Over the 38 years they were married, Deanie had kept everything," Lois said.

In the front of the leather-bound scrapbook is a poem Deanie wrote as a tribute to Potter's diligence, along with a February 1974 Herald-Mail newspaper editorial calling him "a dedicated man."

A native of Irwin, Pa., Potter moved to Hagerstown when he was 6 or 7 years old with his parents, Martha and John Potter. Both beauticians, they opened a shop over the old McCrory's in downtown Hagerstown.

When he wasn't working, Potter enjoyed fishing, golfing and bowling. Those he worked with over the years would join him every summer for a crabbing outing at the shore, Lois said.

"Bill stayed buddies with the men he worked with all through the years," she said.

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