Joseph E. Potter Memorial Fund
Est. 2012 as a designated scholarship fund for the benefit of Ansonia High School students.
They say that the "ties that bind" are those bonds in life we have made that always have a hold on us - no matter how far apart we may be, or wherever our travels may take us. For a group of young men known simply as "The Crew" in Ansonia High School, the phrase has taken on a particularly special meaning. It was 1978, and football season. Through practices and games, weekday school work and weekend celebrations, friendships were formed in times spent together. In particular, one young man stood apart from the rest. His devotion to his studies was unmatched, and his success as a varsity athlete extended to three sports - football, baseball and basketball. Respected by teammates and opponents alike, Joseph Potter was everything the term Scholar-Athlete best exemplifies: a brilliant leader on and off the field and a straight-A student in the classroom. Most of all, Joe Potter was a good friend - someone to be counted on, someone you were glad you knew.
Fast forward nearly 30 years. The Crew had gone their separate ways and life had moved on. Joe went on to further success as a quarterback at Brown University, and graduated with an MBA in economics from UCLA. After a long career in finance in California and on Wall Street, Joe retired from the business world, returned to Connecticut's Fairfield University, and earned a degree in education. Joe then spent eight years teaching mathematics to elementary school students, most recently at the Rippowam Cisqua School in Bedford, New York, where he also coached several sports. Joe was inducted into the Athletic Halls of Fame at both Ansonia High School and Brown University, and received a lifetime achievement award from the UCLA School of Business.
He was admired by his family and friends, but never more so than during his courageous three-year battle with inoperable lung cancer. Joe Potter passed away August 11, 2011 at the age of 49, leaving a beloved wife, Carol, and two children, Sophie and Henry.
Although they had stayed in touch over the years, it was during that battle with cancer that a member of The Crew, AHS '80 classmate Gary DeLallo, now of Palm City, Florida, was able to reconnect with Joe. Gary visited several times during the course of those three years, and was especially moved by Joe's decision to give up his lucrative finance career, return to college and become a teacher. After Joe's passing, Gary wanted to continue Joe's legacy of giving back and working with children. So he created the Joseph E. Potter Memorial Fund at the Valley Community Foundation, which will provide scholarship assistance to graduating AHS students. "I just wanted to keep his memory - what he was all about - alive," said Gary. "Carla Sullivan at VCF made it so easy. We were able to put all of this together long distance through e-mails and phone calls. It just made sense."
Gary received prompt support from other members of The Crew, as well as Joe's family and friends, to help the Fund reach the $10,000 permanent endowed status. "I want Joe to be remembered in the Valley," said Gary. "Not just as a scholar-athlete, but as the really special person Joe truly was. This Fund will help Ansonia's young people to pursue their dreams of teaching others. I can't think of a better way to honor him." For Gary and others in "The Crew", these are indeed the ties of lasting friendship that have bound and continue to bind them so strongly to Joseph Potter.
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