If ever a person was in need, George Potter was there to help.
From time to time, folks who were down on their luck would come to Perry’s police station, and Potter, then the public safety director, would find a way to help.
“Between sheltering, food or even gas vouchers, he made sure that nobody walked away needing anything,” Fire Chief Joel Gray said Thursday. Gray served under Potter for nearly six years as deputy chief over the fire department.
Potter, who retired in 2012 due to health reasons, died Wednesday afternoon after a long battle with cancer. He was 65. A funeral is planned for Saturday.
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“He would do anything for anyone,” Gray said. “All you had to do was let him know that you had a need, and he could either make it happen or find someone who could make it happen.”
Potter, a graduate of the FBI Academy, was a 42-year veteran of law enforcement. He served the city of Perry for 16 years, first as police chief and then as public safety director. Before coming to Perry, he spent 26 years with the Columbus Police Department.
Potter met his wife of 26 years, Connie, when she was a manager for a book store chain and he was supervising security at a mall in Columbus. They have one child, Erica Potter, and a granddaughter, Lily Robinson. The voice mailbox for the Potters’ home phone was full midday Thursday.
Perry Mayor Jimmy Faircloth described Potter as “very conscientious.”
“He knew his job backwards and forwards,” Faircloth said. “He had a very good reputation among rank and file throughout this region and the state. He worked well with other agencies. The department flourished under his guidance.”
Under Potter’s leadership, the city built a public safety training center -- later named the George A. Potter Public Safety Training Center -- using seized funds.
Gray said Potter was very focused on providing the best public safety to Perry residents.
“We were to be always looking forward at what was either new technology, new tactics or strategies and let him know if we needed anything,” Gray said.
As public safety director, Potter oversaw police and fire services. When he retired, City Council split the job and hired Steve Lynn as police chief and Gray as fire chief.
Potter’s funeral will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at New Hope Baptist Church in Perry. Interment will be private. Visitation will be 4-7 p.m. Friday at the church. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions to Heart of Georgia Hospice, Jay’s Hope or Friends of Perry Animal Shelter.
Watson-Hunt Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Jennifer Burk, call 256-9705.