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Robert T. Potter, M.D., age 93, died February 1st at home on Manasota Key, surrounded by family and washed in the light of the Super Moon. Son of the late Dr. Philip Childs Potter and Zaidee Tillinghast Potter, he is survived by his dear wife of 17 years, Barbara (Babs) Wilson Taliaferro, and his brothers, Philip C. Potter Jr., and Nicholas B. Potter. He was devoted to the next generation: Frederick Woodbridge Potter (Monica) of Apollo Beach, Fla.; Helena Belle Potter Marks (John) of Bethlehem, Pa.; Zaidee Potter Laughlin (Trevor) of Plattsburgh, N.Y.; William Duke Taliaferro Jr., of Englewood; Robert Blair Taliaferro (Jeani) and Arthur Cortland Taliaferro (Laura) all of St. Augustine, Fla. He absolutely delighted in the grandchildren, Phoebe, Anna and Eliza Marks; Max (Kayla), Paul and Zaidee Laughlin; Robby and Ellie Taliaferro and Marquesa Taliaferro; as well as his nieces and nephews.
Born in New York City in 1924, Dr. Potter attended St. Bernard's School and Phillips Exeter Academy. He matriculated at Harvard College in September 1943 and enlisted in the United States Army that December serving as an antiaircraft artillery radar technician in the Pacific Theatre. After the war, he returned to Harvard College, graduating cum laude, and then attended Harvard Medical School, where he was President of his class (1952). Dr. Potter completed general, thoracic and vascular surgery training. He practiced at the Brooklyn-Cumberland Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., St. Vincent's Hospital, New York, N.Y., and CVPH Medical Center in Plattsburgh, N.Y. In 1993, Dr. Potter joined The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations as a physician surveyor, retiring in 2003.
In 1955 Dr. Potter married Helena Adams Wolfe in New York City. They raised their three children in Englewood and Tenafly, N.J., and Plattsburgh, N.Y. They moved to Manasota Key, Englewood, Fla., in 1995. Their 43 years together were a truly shared partnership of interests and passions prior to Helena's passing away in 1998.
In 2000 Dr. Potter married Babs, also of Manasota Key and widowed in 1997, combining two marvelous families, and they spent their time enjoying life on the Key, and traveling for pleasure and myriad family events.
Dr. Potter exemplified a life of service. He volunteered as a surgeon at a civilian hospital near Saigon, Vietnam, for the summer of 1967. Dr. Potter gave long and devoted service to the Grenfell Mission, an organization dedicated to providing medical care to people in Newfoundland and Labrador. He volunteered with Grenfell during medical school and returned in the fall of 1957, with Helena, for a 10-month interim position as the only surgeon in St. Anthony, Newfoundland. He was a member of the boards of the Grenfell Association of America (President from 1984 - 2000) and the International Grenfell Association. Dr. Potter also traveled to the Philippines in February 1999 with Habitat For Humanity. For the past 10 years, he served on the Manasota Key Association as both board member and secretary, and he and Babs were recently made Honorary Life Members.
Dr. Potter's kindness and interest in others were immediately apparent to all he met and his was a disciplined, unassuming life. He approached his professional work with a spirit of collaboration and learning, providing leadership and perspective in an understated, steadfast manner. He believed in having a plan for each and every day and talking things over, valuing human connection above all else. Dr. Potter lived generously and graciously.
A celebration of Dr. Potter's life will be held at the Englewood United Methodist Church, Dearborn Ave., Englewood, Fla., at 11 a.m. on Saturday, February 10th, with interment this summer in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains at the Keene Valley Cemetery, Keene, N.Y. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Medicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) https://donate.doctorswithoutborders.org/onetime-mobile.cfm?source=AUU0000MMDE6& Now have some ice cream and call someone you love!
To share a condolence with Dr. Potter's family, please visit www.rwwalkerfh.com.
Published on February 5, 2018
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