John Potter Jr., a well-known East Chop resident who lived an adventuresome life and wrote a colorful memoir about it titled My First Nine Lives, died unexpectedly on Jan. 4. He was 89.
A retired businessman and former treasure diver, he spent his early childhood years in China. As an adult he lived in Hong Kong where he developed an export-import business with his wife Joan Potter.
Quiet and unassuming on the surface, “what one sees on the bluff is just the current iteration of the man,” wrote Rick Herrick in a story for the Gazette about Mr. Potter’s memoir. “He, like all of us, has a previous story. Or rather many stories.”
The book chronicled his education at St. George’s School and Harvard, his service in the Navy during World War II and his early business career in Asia. It described how as a young boy he was rescued by Buddhist monks who exorcised evil spirits from his body to cure his pneumonia (life number one). “Life number five led to the Chinese civil war where the unassuming fellow was captured by Chinese Communists and interrogated as a spy,” Mr. Herrick wrote in the review.
In his retirement years Mr. Potter became known as an icon of East Chop, where he walked his dog Rocky twice a day around the Chop.
“The dog most likely heard the first draft of this book told amidst howling winds and serene summer days, all witnessed high above the ocean on the bluffs of East Chop,” Mr. Herrick wrote.
John Stauffer Potter Jr. is survived by his wife of 52 years, Joan Coles Potter; his sister Patricia Luce Chapman; his three sons and their spouses John S. Potter 3rd and Susan Silverstein Potter, William N.H. Potter and Kerry Quinlan Potter, and Robert L.C. Potter and Deborah Holtzer Potter; his five grandchildren Charlotte Potter, Samantha Potter, Chesca Potter, Max Potter, and Zak Potter; as well as his many friends and fans of his interesting life. His parents, John Stauffer Potter Sr. and Edna Lee Booker Potter both predeceased him.
Private visitation is pending and a full celebration of his life will be conducted in the summer as a date to be determined. Following cremation, his ashes will be spread in the two areas that he loved most: East Chop and near the Atocha, a treasure ship his book helped to locate in the waters near Key West, Fla.
A full obituary will be published in a future edition of the Gazette.