Mrs. Edna Potter, long-time educator, civic leader dies
Published 11:33 am Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Mrs. Edna Potter, long-time educator and active member of the Roan Mountain Community, died Friday, Oct. 23, in the Roan Highlands Nursing Center.
Mrs. Potter had been in poor health for some time. She was the widow of James W. Potter, also a long-time educator in the Carter County School System.
A native of the Elk Mills Community, Mrs. Potter was a graduate of East Tennessee State University and had taught school in the Carter County School System for 42 years. At the time of her retirement she was a fourth grade teacher at Cloudland Elementary School.
The Potters were very active in the Roan Mountain Naturalists Rally and Wildflower Tours. They and former STAR Editor Fred Behrend planned the two events 46 years ago. She and her husband served as directors of the Naturalists Rally for several years and often took their coffee pot and served coffee to the participants between events. In recognition of their work, an award of excellence – the James and Edna Potter Conservation Award – was established by the Friends of Roan Mountain to honor those who followed in their footsteps.
The Potters had a special love for Roan Mountain, and when the Rhododendron Festival was held on the mountain they rarely missed one, attending festivals on both the Tennessee and North Carolina side of the mountain.
Edna was chosen as Teacher of the Year and Tennessee’s Conservation Educator of the Year in 1976 .
Edna loved pageants, and from the very beginning worked with the Miss Rhododendron Pageant. After the pageant, she would work tirelessly grooming the local winner for the Miss Tennessee Pageant. She attended pageants in other states, often taking the newly-crowned Miss Rhododendron with her.
She saw the pageants as a stepping stone for young women to advance their education and to grow into a career and a life of service.
She and her husband often served as chaperones of the Miss Rhododendron to the state pageant. One pageant winner, Sonya Pleasant, went on to win the Miss Tennessee title and competed in the Miss American Pageant, and the Potters traveled to Atlantic City, N.J., to support her.
Once the Miss Rhodendron Pageant ceased, the Potters organized the Miss Watauga Valley Pageant. They were recognized at the June 1996 Miss Tennessee Pageant for over 50 years of work in the state preliminaries.
Edna’s work didn’t stop there. She was active for many years in the Roan Mountain Garden Club and in her church at Elk Park Christian. She served as secretary, treasurer, and historian of the Mountain Christian Churches Annual Convention for a number of years.
The Potters were married 62 years before Jim died in 2002.
Mrs. Potter is survived by a daughter, three granddaughters, a great granddaughter and two sisters.
The funeral service will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Chapel of Peace at Tetrick Funeral Home in Elizabethton with the graveside service and burial scheduled at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Happy Valley Memorial Park.