By Ray Powell
Former State Land Commissioner
A life worth celebrating! Jeffrey William Potter, an active member and leader of our Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club, died on Dec. 3, 2015, from brain cancer.
Jeff was born in Los Alamos, on June 30, 1955. He graduated from Los Alamos High School, the University of New Mexico (B.A. fine art and B.S. biology) and the University of Georgia (M.S. Biochemistry). He retired from the UNM Cancer Center as a research scientist in 2006. Jeff was a talented artist and scientist, a leader in the fine-art community and the Alameda North Valley Association.
I had the great good fortune to have known Jeff from our days together as biology students at UNM. His passion for life was evident every day as he pursued and devoured his course work in both fine arts and biology.
He shared his enormous enthusiasm for New Mexico’s natural world on field trips through the desert grasslands, the high mountains, and the rare and lush riparian oases.
Jeff would pull me out of my myopic fixation with botanical and animal taxonomy and help me appreciate and reflect upon the diverse, subtle and rich colors we encountered. As we walked across the landscape looking at the soil types and underlying geology that supported the enormous diversity of life, he would stop and marvel at the texture and shadows of the leaves, tree trunks, and streambeds. He would take out his sketch pad and capture the unique beauty of an exposed tree root on the side of a dry arroyo.
Jeff’s website, jeffpotterart.com, reflects his tremendous talent and love of the natural world. Guests to his site are greeted with a warm “WELCOME — Join me in an artistic journey where I explore and create works in pastel, oil, watercolor and also block prints and monotypes. Subjects range from pastoral scenes to aerial views meant to highlight the vast space, form and light of the Desert Southwest. There’s also a non-traditional side of me too. Enjoy your visit!”
Jeff hit the jackpot in finding his life partner, Deborah Ulinski Potter, a noted scientist and teacher. His joy in sharing stories about Deborah’s many accomplishments and her passion for the well-being of animals was always inspiring and uplifting. Jeff also loved to talk about the canine members of his family, who he claimed were nothing short of geniuses. Thank you, Jeff, for enriching my life!