Potter’s impact lingers beyond wrestling mat

When he passed in May of this year, Art Potter left behind a legacy of love; a legacy of loving family, friends, and the sport of wrestling. The fixture of Fayette County High wrestling is still remembered by so many that he impacted in his years around the team. 

After serving in the U.S. Navy, Potter worked for Delta Airlines for 31 years as an aircraft and ground support mechanic. Even before he retired, he put a big focus on athletics. He was recognized for his dedication with inductions into the GHSA Hall of Fame and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame for his 44 years of service at the local, state, and national levels. 

He is survived by wife, Jeanine, and their sons Jeff, Jerry, and Jimmy and their families. 

It was when Jimmy, the youngest son, was wrestling at Fayette County High that Art met a man who would would become a lifelong friend in Jim Bailey. Bailey, who coached wrestling at FCHS for 26 years, quickly learned what an ally he had in Potter. 

“Mr. Potter was not a coach, he was just a parent and a volunteer, but we referred to him as the team granddad more than anything. He went with us on trips. He took kids to camp on his own dime,” remembered Bailey. “He loved the sport, and he loved the kids, too. It was about the sport and what it did for kids. He loved it, and he just loved being a part of it.

“He did it unselfishly.”

Potter became more than just a helper. 

“He just loved it and loved to be a part of it,and I loved him being a part of it, so we got to be good friends,” said Bailey. 

There were lots of laughs to be shared. 

“I was always the first in the door, and he was always right behind me. We were always the last to leave, and he was the last to leave because he knew I’d take him out to eat,” joked Bailey. “I’ve got a million Art Potter stories, some you can put in print, and some you can’t.”

Potter impacted a lot of wrestlers who hit the mats for the Tigers over the years, like John Weaver. 

“Mr. Potter did more than teach me about wrestling. He taught me about life. He always asked what my plans were and how I would accomplish them,” said Weaver. “He taught me that doing the little simple things made doing the harder task more manageable.” 

He was honest with the wrestlers, but he made sure to build them up above all. 

“He told you how it was and never held anything back. Mr. Potter always made sure to have something positive to say at the end of every conversation,” said Weaver. “If I could take one thing away from Mr. Potter, it would be to always smile and don’t stress about the stuff you can not control and do your best to make the outcome work in your favor.”

To talk to those who knew Art Potter is to know those who felt lucky he was part of their lives. 

“I was the fortunate one, but we all appreciated him and all he did,” said Bailey. “It’s sad he’s gone, but the memory of him lives on in a lot of kids.”

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About

Christopher Dunn has been the sports editor for Fayette Newspapers since 2011, in addition to running Fayette Game Day magazine. He is a graduate of Fayette County schools, as well as a graduate of Georgia State University with a degree in journalism. Follow him on twitter @fayettesports.


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