Ret. Col. Clair W. Potter
Ret. Col. Clair W. Potter of Venice, Fla., formerly of 2643 Richmar Drive, Beavercreek, Ohio, passed away surrounded by his family on Nov. 8, 2019, in Venice, Fla. He was born March 14, 1923 and later married Martha Wilbur Potter on Dec. 29, 1945 and they were together until her passing in 2009. They traveled the world and lived on three separate continents during their 64 years of marriage.
His parents were the late Nina and Edward Potter of Jamestown, N.Y.
Col. Potter served our nation for three decades. In World War II he piloted P-47’s and A-24’s. He was shot down in February 1945 over Belgium, was a POW at Stalag Luft III and the POW Camp in Nuremburg. In late 1945, he was on the forced march from Nuremburg to Stalag 7A at Moosburg where he was liberated by General Patton’s Third Army. He was amused by seeing General Patton climb up on a tank and give a short speech to the liberated prisoners. Col. Potter later flew P-51’s in the Korean conflict and numerous aircraft in Vietnam. During World War II, the Korean conflict and Vietnam, he flew 125 combat missions, accumulating 281 combat hours and earned nine bronze service stars for campaign participation.
Col. Potter was awarded the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with six oak leaf clusters, the Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Prisoner of War Medal, National Defense Service Medal with one bronze service star, World War II Victory Medal, American Campaign Medal, European- African-Eastern Campaign Medal with two bronze service stars, Republic of Korea Presidential Citation, Army of Occupation Medal (Japan), Korean Service Medal with four bronze service stars, Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze service stars, Republic of Vietnam (RVN) Campaign Medal and United Nations Service Medal.
During his career, he was recognized for his skill and knowledge as a pilot and earned ‘The Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award” from the Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration in 2005. He accumulated 10,660 military flight hours and a total of 14,670 hours as a pilot of numerous aircraft both military and civilian.
In retirement, he served as Air Boss, directing the Dayton Air & Trade Show Operations for 17 years. He served as an Air Show Consultant and Air Boss for many of the largest Air Shows in the United States for over 25 years. He flew his first military air demonstration flight in an Air Show in 1954 and his last as a civilian in 1999, spanning over four decades. Col. Potter shared his expertise and donated thousands of hours to the Air Show industry. He also donated generously to the restoration and preservation of many vintage aircraft.
He has been a patron contributor to organizations such as the Wright Brothers Museum, Air Force Museum and Commemorative Air Force. He was particularly proud of his financial support and assistance building the Wright B replica that was flown in numerous Air Shows Internationally. He also restored and donated the Model T that is on display at the Wright Brothers Museum.
Memberships include lifetime memberships in the Air Force Association, American Legion, Aviation Trail, Commerative Air Force, Canadian Commerative Heritage, Daedalian, American Motorcycle ASSN, MOAA, Moose, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Busti Fire Department.
He is survived by his children: Edward (Gen) Potter of Jamestown, N.Y., Linda (Gene) Johnson of Busti, N.Y., Rae Potter of Venice, Fla., and Jesse (Ece) Potter of Atlanta. Grandchildren are: Corrie Johnson of Mountain View, Calif., Shelley (Mark) Waterman of Erie, Pa., Michael (Elise Covey), Kevin (Rebecca) and Eric (Melissa) Potter, John Clair and Rushton (Jennifer Liscandro) Siggins, all of Jamestown, N.Y., and Kagan and Lara Potter of Atlanta, Ga.; 12 great-grandchildren: and many favorite nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Martha; daughter, Carol and infant daughter, Ellen Kay; and his brother, William Potter.
In lieu of flowers, contributions would be favored to go to the Wright Brothers Museum 1000 Carillon Boulevard, Dayton, Ohio 45409, or the Air Force Museum 1100 Spaatz Street, Wright Patterson AFB OH 45433 or the Commemorative Air Force, P.O. Box 764769, 5661 Mariner Drive, Dallas, Texas 75237.
A private family memorial service will be held at a later date.