David Wray Potter was born on August 17, 1948, in Girard, Kansas. He was the son of Willard Wayne Potter and Jane Stobo Prather Potter. David grew up in Joplin, Missouri, and Harlingen, Texas. He attended the Island University now known as Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, where his love for biology, nature, and the environment flourished. After graduation, David worked for several years for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and later for the Texas Department of Transportation. He was a master naturalist before that organization was formalized. David had an exquisite knowledge of the south Texas brush country; he knew the scientific and common names and natural history of most species in the region. He moved to a small ranch in the brush country in the late 90s where he observed, identified, and recorded the plants and animals of northern Jim Wells County. By 2012, he had listed more than 1,400 species on his ranch. He diligently preserved the natural conditions at his ranch.
David was also an ardent conservationist. He believed strongly in self-sufficiency and a minimalist lifestyle. He didn’t need much else besides his natural surroundings. He lived “off the grid” by every definition. The narrow road to his home was little more than a path that cut through dense brush. For most of his years at the ranch, David supplied his electrical needs with a windmill and solar panels. Rainwater was collected in a tank through a system he developed. For most of his last 20 years, David used a bicycle for his transportation needs. He rode his bicycle the many, many miles to Orange Grove and Corpus Christi for appointments, banking, and even groceries. After some medical emergencies, David was relegated to occasionally and begrudgingly accepting a ride from a friend, his daughter, his sister, or a county transportation service.
In his later life, David was what some would call eccentric. He had a bushy beard and often paired his bike helmet with a railroad conductor’s cap or a wide-brimmed sun hat. David lived his life somewhat insulated from the society that he saw as unconscionably reckless with the environment. He was probably right. He certainly tried to do the right things himself and over his 75 years David left a very small environmental footprint.
David was very happy with his life choices and the way he lived. He loved reading, listening to music, engaging in politics, and Dr Pepper. He was also very proud of his daughter, Teresa. Teresa was always inspired by her dad’s love of learning and became a librarian, cultivating a love of lifelong learning in her community.
David Potter is survived by his daughter Teresa Potter (League City, Texas), the one real love of his life. He is also survived by his two sisters, Janet Kiley (Laingsburg, Michigan) and Lynn Caruso (Bedford, Texas). David will also be missed by his college and professional friends who had known him since the 1970s and admired his style of environmentalism and self-determination. Many of his neighbors will miss his friendly waving hand as he rode around on his bicycle.