St. Cloud Times – Intelligent and articulate. A strong leader. Someone who understood the big picture.
These phrases, spoken by St. Cloud residents, reflect the admiration many people felt for Earl H. Potter III, St. Cloud State University’s president who died Monday afternoon in a car crash.
Many people also felt shock and profound sadness when they learned of Potter’s death.
“My first thought was, wow, we lost someone who can really make change and get stuff done,” said Rich Kelly, co-president of the Southside University Neighborhood Association, which worked with Potter to improve the neighborhood shared by longtime homeowners and students.
Kelly heard the news of Potter’s death while driving to the SCSU Foundation Annual Leadership Breakfast in St. Paul — the same event Potter was scheduled to speak at Tuesday morning. When Kelly arrived at the event, many of the attendees hadn’t yet heard Potter was dead.
Jim Graves, a 1974 graduate of St. Cloud State and chief executive officer of Graves Hospitality, was scheduled to give a keynote address at the Foundation breakfast where Potter was scheduled to give a State of the University address. Instead, attendees drank coffee and talked about Potter, Kelly said.
Kelly respected Potter because he prioritized his partnership with the Southside University Neighborhood and always gave neighborhood stakeholders a seat at the table.