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David Ambrose Potts ’62

September 2, 2018, in Seattle, of lung cancer.

David grew up in the foothills of Mount Rainier, the eldest of nine children born to Ambrose and Mary Potts. He was a brilliant student, graduating from Seattle’s Eatonville High School at the age of 16. David attended Reed on a National Merit Scholarship. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics, writing his thesis with Prof. Arthur Leigh [economics 1946–88].

David married fellow alum Edith Skip Wolff ’62 and moved to Seattle to begin working on a master’s degree at the University of Washington, where he fell in love with photography. He was hired by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer as a photographer in 1966, and in his 12 years with the newspaper he photographed the Beatles, Richard Nixon, Bobby Kennedy, the maiden flight of the Boeing 747, and much more.

With the birth of their children, Michael and Cory Lynne, David and Skip became a family, but they divorced in 1972. David bought a tiny house in Ballard and met Mary Catherine (Mary Kay) Rohwer, whom he married in 1982. In the late ’70s, David began working for Delta Marine building fishing boats. When he was in his 40s, he worked in construction and eventually started his own business restoring and renovating homes as well as working on major improvements at the University of Washington and Woodland Park Zoo.

Active throughout his life, in his youth David enjoyed mountain climbing, sailing, motorcycling, skiing, and scuba diving. In his later years, he graduated to hiking, fly fishing, and golf, and he and his friends were avid participants in the Lake Union Duck Dodge sailboat races for many years. He approached life with astonishing vigor, considering that from age 39 on he was a cardiac patient who endured countless bypass and stent procedures, and, in his late 60s, had a kidney removed. One year ago, he was thrilled that he was still able to hike the Pinnacle Peak Trail at Mount Rainier with several of his high school friends.

He possessed a lifelong appetite for learning, was an avid reader, and loved taking courses on astronomy, geology, fly fishing, music, sumi-e Japanese ink wash painting, and fretted-instrument construction. In his later years, he mastered the art of building and repairing ukuleles and guitars with the encouragement of the staff at Dusty Strings and members of the Seattle Ukulele Players Association.

David had a keen sense of humor and irony, was a good, patient listener, and was generous with his time and experience. He had a knack for letting people talk through their own problems, but also called out BS where he saw it. He is survived by his wife, Mary Kay; his son, Michael; and his daughter, Cory.

Appeared in Reed magazine: March 2018

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