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Wellington Daily News - Wellington, KS
  • Remembering Ethan Potter

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  • Submitted by Jim Mathis The Dr. Rabe Tennis Club of Leavenworth recently lost its longtime President, Ethan Potter. Potter was the last surviving member of the original Rabe tennis group that started playing tennis in 1954 at the Leavenworth Country Club. Some of the original members were Dr. Melvin Rabe, J.V. Oliver, Dr. Ralph Atchison, Spike Meyer, R.B. Whitaker, Don Spratt, and Jimmy Snyder. In the mid 60s, Dr. Rabe purchased a house on South Broadway and built a tennis court in the back yard. These players continued to meet three times a week to play tennis on this new court. In the mid 80s, the group moved out to the courts in David Brewer Park where more courts were available and more players started playing. Mr. Potter continued to play up to age 78 when he had a knee replacement. Potter continued to come out to the courts with a new joke or story to pass on with the players. He would watch from the sideline and he did this up to within a few days of his death. Potter was a true tennis ambassador for Leavenworth. Potter played in tournaments and won tournaments in Lawrence, St. Joseph, Kansas City and at the Barrybrooke Racquet Club. Potter was known for his sharp play, knowing when to lob and when to drop shot his opponent. He was also a very fair player and always a gentleman on the court. In the first official city tennis championships, Potter, at over 50 years of age, was part of the winning men’s open doubles team. He also won the 40 and over singles title a couple of years. Potter started a tradition 10 years ago at the Leavenworth Labor Day Open of passing out old pennies dated around 1900 to the tennis entries. Potter also helped pay for some tennis lesson so some Leavenworth High School players could receive professional instruction at the Barrybrooke Racquet Club. One year he paid for a quick resurfacing job of the tennis courts before the annual Labor Day tennis tournament. Ethan is going to be missed by not only the local tennis players, but by many people in the city of Leavenworth. Everyone who knew Potter had a great respect for this wonderful man. Submitted by Mike Carmey No matter where I have traveled in this country, I have always noticed, especially at breakfast, a group of men huddled around a table in heated discussions about everything under the sun. It seems to be a norm almost anywhere. Leavenworth is no different. I have been involved in just one of those “clubs” for many years. Our particular group has jumped from the Corner Drug Store to the Santa Fe Diner over the past decades. I think the gatherings may have even started at the old Cody Hotel Coffee Shop. The participants have been many, some have moved away and some have passed on. Just last week, the Patriarch of our club, Ethan Potter, passed on to join his loved ones and of course those from our group. Ethan was, as many know, a long time lawyer in the community and served in many capacities. But I knew him best as the first one to sit at our reserved table and usually the last one to leave. What I enjoyed most about Ethan, especially after his retirement, was his wit and unassuming personality. Those in the community who only had experiences as his adversary in divorce proceedings did not have the good fortune to know them an personally. In fact, the first time I encountered “Mr. Potter” was in municipal court as a teenager. My attorney pleaded my case, but to no avail. And at that moment, I learned a lesson that I passed on to my children. Quite simply, when you do something dumb, in my case by breaking the law, then there would be consequences. This should be enough motivation for any prudent person to realize the consequences of their actions. Even at age 93, Ethan remembered my fateful day in his court. And over the years, it was his grand memory of things and his revelations of such incidents that made the trip for coffee a thing to cherish. Mr. Potter was a walking history book, from his beginning in Peabody, Kan. until his untimely demise here in Leavenworth. I especially enjoyed his stories of being in the service during WWII and his growing up during the Great Depression. In our many discussions, he would normally let people “make their case” and would intervene in a timely matter to set us straight. Local and national politics would always seem to creep into the mix as well as sporting events. Fortunately, religion never became an issue and that was fine with all of those in attendance. Ethan had a suitcase of corny jokes, but a trunk full of grand memories and experiences that enthralled us all. He was truly the cornerstone of our “group therapy” and will be greatly missed by us all: Mike C, Mike W, George, Kirby, Lundy, Lloyd, Bill, John and many others.
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