Harm Potter, University 'ambassador,' dies

Harmon Potter, one of the University's most ubiquitous and well-loved ambassadors, died July 8 at St. John's Home. He was 84.

Potter, known fondly as Harm, was devoted to the University. For more than 50 years, he served in an extraordinary range of positions in admissions, alumni relations, and development, as well as University secretary and special assistant to the president.

His own gift for salesmanship and his unabashed dedication to the institution raised millions for the University. A member of the Class of 1938, Mr. Potter always said he felt fortunate to be admitted to the University, and was forever grateful.

"Harm was truly 'one of a kind,' " said senior vice president Richard Miller Jr. "His life was uniquely intertwined with his University and he had a true passion for and sense of what was important about Rochester. I doubt that a day passed by without his doing something for his alma mater."

Potter began working at the University in 1941. He established a network of alumni clubs nationwide, shepherded alumni tour groups, and generally impressed people with "a passion for the place," said former University president Dennis O'Brien.

In the 1980s, a University scholarship was created in Potter's honor for students with the potential to follow his example. He had been arranging a 60th reunion event for his class before suffering a cerebral hemorrhage more than a month ago.

A Rochester native and a resident of Pittsford for many years, Potter was involved in community organizations, including the Rochester Rotary Club and the Monroe County Easter Seals Society.

Potter is survived by his wife, Juanita; two sons, Harmon Potter Jr., of Rochester, and Craig Potter, of Pittsford; a daughter, Gail Parello, of Boston, Mass.; a brother, the Rev. Claire Potter, of Fairport; three grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and several nieces, nephews and cousins.

Burial was private. A memorial service was held July 12 at Interfaith Chapel.

Memorials may be sent to the Harmon S. Potter Scholarship Fund, c/o University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627, or to the Rochester Rotary Club, 120 E. Main St., Rochester, NY 14604.

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