Cover photo for Donald Albert Potts's Obituary
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1930 Dr. Donald Albert Potts 2024

Donald Albert Potts

March 25, 1930 — January 3, 2024

Independence

Prominent Family Physician and the First “First Gentleman” of Independence (March 25, 1930 - January 03, 2024) One of the area’s most admired family physicians, Dr. Potts was in private practice in Independence for more than 20 years. He may be best remembered as the husband of Independence, Missouri’s first female mayor, Barbara Potts who served from 1982 to 1990. At his wife’s side, Dr. Potts supported her many social contributions, such as helping to found the Hope House shelter for domestic violence victims, the Salvation Army’s Crossroads Homeless Center, and the Jackson County Free Health Clinic. But Dr. Potts' service to his country and community went well beyond being the city’s first “First Gentleman” of Independence.

Donald Potts graduated from the Kansas University School of Medicine in 1962, working his way through college as a bricklayer and entering the profession at a time when doctors still made house calls. If patients couldn’t afford to pay, he sometimes accepted a dozen eggs from their family’s farm or a walnut cake at Christmas time. Eventually, Dr. Potts became one of the area’s first board-certified family physicians, recognizing the growing need for doctors to treat the whole patient, not just the disease or injury.

In 1986 he moved his practice to Truman Medical Center (now known as University Health Center) and joined UMKC School of Medicine as Medical Director of the Family Medicine Residency Program. Many of his former students still practice in the metropolitan area. Dr. Potts also took on a secondary role with the Jackson County Detention Service, treating prison inmates. In his retirement years, he volunteered as a physician for the Jackson County Free Health Clinic. In 2020, then 90-year-old Dr. Donald Potts received Kansas City Medical Society’s “Lifetime Achievement Award” for his commitment to the health of the community.

Dr. Potts was a longtime member of the Rotary Club International and served on several city and nonprofit boards including the Independence Advisory Board of Health, the Independence Board of Ethics, and the American Correctional Health Services Advisory Board. As a member of the Kansas City Health Commission’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Committee, Dr. Potts worked tirelessly to decrease tobacco use in the region. He advocated for local legislation to ban smoking in public places and was a leading voice in the community for raising awareness about the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping.

A veteran of the Korean War, Donald Potts served stateside as a special agent in the Army’s Central Intelligence Corp from 1953-1955. He especially enjoyed his work in the CIC and often mentioned that if he hadn’t been accepted to med school, he might have joined the FBI.

It was during his time in the service that he married Barbara Joyce Elledge, who grew up in Independence Missouri. As devoted members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS)--now known as the Community of Christ Church--they were married at the Stone Church in 1953. Just recently, Mayor Rory Rowland proclaimed December 27th as “Barbara and Donald Potts 70th Wedding Anniversary Day” to recognize the public-spirited couple’s special achievement.

Building on his devotion to God, country, and community, Dr. Potts served as an RLDS Church Elder for more than 40 years, from 1966 to 2008. He completed seven medical missions to Haiti through the church and returned again in 2010, volunteering with Heart to Heart International when Haiti was devastated by a powerful earthquake. Dr. Potts also traveled with Heart to Heart to New Orleans in 2005 on a medical mission to treat the victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He remained a member of the Missouri Medical Reserve Corp throughout his retirement.

The family and friends of Dr. Potts knew him as a man of many passions. He loved to travel. In their early retirement years, Donald and Barbara traveled internationally and spent summers in Lake of the Ozarks with friends where he enjoyed his two favorite outdoor activities: fishing and golfing. In their later retirement years, the couple vacationed in Port Clyde on the coast of Maine each summer, a longtime favorite retreat for both of them. They made frequent trips to visit family in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Texas.

Dr. Potts’ many hobbies included large collections of recorded music and fine wines. As a member of the KC Jazz Ambassadors organization, Donald was an enthusiastic supporter of the area’s many jazz musicians, programs, and establishments. An avid collector of fine wines, he became a Chevalier with Le Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs, the oldest and largest food and wine society in the world. He was a violinist, an accomplished photographer and had lifelong interests in audio electronics and trains.

 Donald Potts was born in 1930 and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School and earned undergraduate degrees at Graceland College and Kansas University. In addition to his wife Barbara, Donald leaves behind his four children and their spouses including Tedd Potts, Dwight Potts, Douglas and Sally Potts, and Laura (née Potts) and Scott Shelton. He also leaves behind nine grandchildren and their spouses including Claudia (née Potts) and James Alford, Matt and Ashlea Ahrenholtz, Brian Potts, Sarah Potts, Ryan Potts, Alex and Bailey Potts, Lindsey (née Ahrenholtz) and Jake Wade, Nika Potts, and Sean Potts; and eight great-grandchildren including Lily and Hudson Ahrenholtz, Charlie and Beau Alford, Beau and Hayes Wade, and Isla and Maggie Potts.

A memorial visitation will be held from 10am-12pm, Saturday, January 13th at Speaks Suburban Chapel in Independence.  A memorial service will be held at 11am, Monday, January 15th at Community of Christ-Stone Church, also in Independence. 

In place of flowers, the family requests donations to Hope House at hopehouse.net.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Saturday, January 13, 2024

10:00am - 12:00 pm (Central time)

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Memorial Service

Monday, January 15, 2024

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

Community of Christ Stone Church

1012 W Lexington Ave, Independence, MO 64050

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