Profiles in Ranch History: Will Potter
By Carol Rawle
March 1999

One of the first things you can't help noticing about Will Potter is that he is a virtual cauldron of energy.  He practically has an energy force field surrounding him.  It would be my guess that it's his focused dedication to purpose driven by this indomitable energy that is disarming to some people.  Being around Will is like finding yourself in the path of a F5 tornado.

Will was born in Virginia and grew up in Maryland.  He graduated from Princeton in 1960 with a BA in economics, then earned his MBA from Emory University in Atlanta.  When Will met his wife Simone in 1964, she was working as a flight attendant for Pan American airlines, and Will was working in Baltimore as a trainee at Mercantile Safe Deposit and Trust Co.  Six months later they were married.  Their first child, a daughter, was born in May '65, their son in '69.

After working at the bank for twelve years, and making his way up the corporate ladder, Will went to work for Preston Trucking also in Maryland.  During the time Will worked there, as president of the company, Preston operated 71 trucking terminals from New York and Washington D.C.  to St Louis and Chicago.  It was a Teamster Union shop at the time when trucking became deregulated.  Will's philosophy and the philosophy of the company was to treat people like people instead of tractor-trailer rigs.  In fact, Preston appeared in the 1984 edition of '100 Best companies to work for in America'.  It was one of the very few places where these tough workers belonging to the Teamsters and Longshoreman's Unions felt comfortable approaching management on an equal footing, unlike their adversarial relationship with management in other work places.

The company was sold in '93, and Will "retired".  This is not a label you can stick on Will, though.  All one has to do is sit down across from this man and experience what his boundless energy does to a small room to understand why Will could never be retired.  When asked how he and Simone arrived at the decision to settle in Trinidad, Will told how his great-grandfather had developed Vermijo Park Ranch which borders the SFTR.  He and Simone visited Vermijo in the early '70's and fell in love with the wilderness grandeur.  The seed was planted.

Before Will retired they both sat down together and wrote out a vision of what their place in the wilderness would be.  Shortly thereafter they met Pam Hook who showed them the SFTR, and they knew "this was the place." They bought their land in May '93 and had the wonderful luck to find Tom Reid to build their dream.  The cabin (guest house) was built first and they moved in in April '94.  Tom then started on the main house, and in Sept '95, the Potters moved into their comfortable, highly functional new home with sweeping views.

As one would expect of a man with so much energy, Will's motto is Stay fit.  He and Simone are avid skiers and he says they enjoy the slope of Taos the most.  Simone is very involved as a board member of the local YMCA, and Will has brought his talents and energy to the board of the SFTR POA and the new Metro District board.

Will believes that as wonderful and beautiful as something may be, you're not going to be able to keep what you have unless you take the responsibility for maintaining it.  This was the impelling factor for him to get involved in the SFTR POA.  In '94, Will was elected to the board to sit with Ted Novakowski, Charles Baldwin, Janice Hines, Rich Babnick, Walt Wolff, Tom Stephens, Merle Prestwood, and Bev Todd.

In June '95, when Ted Novakowski had to resign for health reasons, Will was appointed president to complete Ted's term.  In '97, Will was elected to a second term on the board of directors where he continued to serve as president of the SFTR POA until last year when he was given a respite by the board; he's serving as vice-president now.

One day Will and Carl Putz were chatting about the water situation on the ranch.  Will was talking about developing the wells, and Carl said, "I don't see why you don't try to get city water."  Will thought, good question.  Together with Ted Novakowski and Jim Davis, they kicked around the idea with Trinidad City Engineer Jim Fernandez.  From there, Will and Jim got PR going and started working on getting majority support on the city council.

In October '96, at the annual POA meeting, Will first suggested the concept of a Metro district to the membership.  (Newly elected board member) Jim Davis had previous experience with these districts as a tool to fund large utility projects and Will took hold of the idea like a running back in a game with all the odds against his team.  I personally, felt the idea had all the chances of a snowball in hell of succeeding, although I thought it was a brilliant notion.  A year later, under Will's and Jim's dogged nurturance, the Metro District was voted in.  Will is currently serving on the Metro Board as secretary.  He's also a tireless worker on the Water Committee.  Thanks to the indefatigable energy of Will and his partners on the Water Committee, Dave Schroepfer, David Hulstine, Jim Davis, Tom Stephens, Eddie Gieskie, Michelle Minion, and Ted Novakowski, the SFTR water and phone system is now under construction.

One of Will's most valuable contributions to the Ranch, though, has been the adoption of the town meeting each year, the day prior to the annual October POA meeting.  The first town meeting was held in '96, in order to establish a forum whereby the POA membership and the board would have an informal way to establish a dialogue.  In the years since, the idea has proven itself to be an indispensable method of getting business on the table in order to make the annual meeting much more efficient.

Will is very aware that there are those property owners who harbour an intense dislike for how organized the Ranch is becoming.  However, even the most vocal denouncers must concede that this Ranch of ours is a very unique development, and each has the responsibility for maintaining it.  Will challenges all property owners to embrace the POA's mission and to become involved as a 'good neighbor.'

Beyond our property lines, beyond our individual differences, beyond the Ranch boundaries we're all part of the larger community.  Being a good neighbor is what we should all aim for.

Thank you Will, from all of us!