William E. Potts – Major General, United States Army

Press Report: Thursday, Mar 4, 2004


A former grand marshal of the Mule Day Parade and member of the 1952 Central High School State Championship football team will be burried with full military honors April 26, 2004, in Arlington National Cemetery.

Major General William E. Potts , 68, died February 29, 2004, at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C. Potts was born in Nashville, before moving to Columbia, Tennessee, with his parents.

He was remembered by family and friends as an intelligent man who served his country with pride and passion.

Maury County Clerk Nancy Thompson, a family friend, said she had fond memories of Potts and his family.

“He was just something else,” she said. “Lovable, kindhearted, thoughtful of others and he loved his country.”

Two of Potts' brothers also served their country. Gene Potts spent 30 years in the Army and Donnie pots served in the Air Force for 23 years. Both died last August.

“That is a very patriotic family,” Thompson said.

Pott's eldest sister, Irene Morris, said her brother loved Columbia.

“He didn't' get back as often as he wanted to, but he still have quite a few friends that he grew up with,” she said.

Potts' son, Gary Potts, said he learned early on about Columbia from his father.

“My brother and I probably know more about Columbia, as people who haven't grown up or lived there, than anybody else,” he said. “He considered himself a true son of Columbia.”

In 1952, Potts was part of Central High School's state championship football team. Following his years at Central, he won a football scholarship to Vanderbilt University and in 1958 joined the army ultimately achieving the rank of Major General.

Potts' distinguished military career included four tours in Vietnam, Turkey and Korea. He received several military awards including The Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster and the Army Commendation Medal (3 OLC) to name a few. He was also inducted into the Ordnance Corps Hall of Fame.

Following his retirement, Pott's joined Cypress International as Vice President for Internation Programs

Potts was reunited with his CHS teammates in 1982 and had his number (27) retired.

In 1992, Potts was honored as the co-grand marshal of the Mule Day Parade, with Rear Admiral Fran McKee, during the 175th anniversary of the city of Columbia.

Gary Potts said he will never forget the warm reception his father received that April day.

“It was just a wonderful celebration,” he said. “It was like a city that was one big family.”

The funeral will be conducted at 9 a.m. April 26 at Old Post Chapel, Fort Myer, Virginia, with full military honors and he will be burried in Arlington National Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Vanderbilt University Gator Bowl Group, in care of the National Commodore Club, 2601 Jess Neely Drive, Nashville, Tennessee 37212 or to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Lung Transplant Program.

Columbia always had an important place in Potts' heart, his son said.

“He always credited his success to his roots and growing up in Columbia,” Gary Potts said. “What he learned about life growing up in Columbia is what made him successful later on.”

General William E. Potts; Expert in Logistics
Sunday, March 21, 2004

Major General William E. Potts, 68, a retired career Army officer and logistics expert who was a vice president of Cypress International for the past 16 years, died of respiratory failure February 29, 2004, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He lived in Alexandria, Virginia.

General Potts, who was born in Nashville, graduated from Vanderbilt University. He entered the Army in 1958 through the Army ROTC at Vanderbilt. He received a master's degree in public administration in 1975.

General Potts was a 1968 graduate of the Turkish language program at the Defense Language Institute. He also graduated from the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at Fort McNair.

His military assignments included tours with the 101st Airborne Division, the 2nd Infantry Division and the 82nd Airborne Division, where he commanded the Division Support Command.

He also was chief of ordnance and commanding general of the Ordnance Center and School at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. He was deputy commanding general for readiness at the U.S. Missile Command and then director of readiness for the Army Materiel Command at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.

General Potts served four tours overseas, concluding logistics adviser in Vietnam, military attache in Turkey, logistics commander in Korea and chief of the Joint Military Mission for Aid to Turkey.

In his last assignment, he was chief of the Department of Defense's Foreign Military Sales Program. He helped expand defense cooperation, resolved key technical arrangements on U.S.-Turkey business ventures and furthered internal research and development programs. He retired from the military in 1988.

His military honors included the Distinguished Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with one oak-leaf cluster, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Master Parachutist Badge and the Turkish Parachutist Badge. He also was inducted into the Ordnance Hall of Fame.

After retiring, he joined Cypress International, a consulting firm in Alexandria, as vice president of international programs.

General Potts was a member of the Commodore Club-Vanderbilt University, the National Defense Industrial Association, American-Turkish Council and the Ordnance Corps Association. He also was inducted into Vanderbilt University's ROTC Hall of Fame.

Survivors include his wife of 46 years, Peggy J. Potts of Alexandria; two sons, Lieutenant Colonel Gary M. Potts of Newport, R.I., and William Neil Potts of Dallas; two granddaughters; and a sister.


On February 29, 2004, of Alexandria, Virginia. Beloved husband of Peggy J. Potts, his loving wife of 46 years; loving father of two wonderful sons, Lieutenant Colonel Gary M. Potts, U.S. Army, currently attending the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, and William Neil Potts (manager of a restaurant in Dallas, Texas). He is also survived by his daughter-in-law, Brenda Potts; and two loving granddaughters, Ashley and Lauren Potts, also of Newport, Rhode Island; caring brother of Irene Morris of Columbia, Tennessee.

Funeral service will be held 9 a.m., Monday, April 26, at Old Post Chapel, Fort Myer. Interment Arlington National Cemetery with Full Military Honors.

In lieu of flowers, any memorial contributions may be made to the Vanderbilt University Gator Bowl Group c/o The National Commodore Club, 2601 Jess Neely Dr., Nashville, Tennessee 37212; or to The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Lung Transplant Program (POC: Ann Lee, 412-648-9865).

General who grew up in Columbia buried at Arlington Cemetery
Tuesday, Apr 27, 2004

Fifteen minutes before the funeral ceremony, the pews in the Old Post Chapel at Fort Myer, Va., were already filled with more than 150 people. About 30 more lined the walls in the back and along the sides.

It was a cloudy and humid day, and women fanned themselves with funeral programs as they waited for the service to begin.

Everybody had come to say good-bye to Bill Potts, a two-star general who grew up in Columbia and spent the last 16 years of his life working for a consulting firm in Alexandria, Virginia.

It was a dignified ceremony that included plenty of laughs as Potts' friends and colleagues remembered what a snazzy dresser he was and how much he loved cars.

Potts returned to Columbia in 1992 to serve as co-grand marshal of the Mule Day Parade.

He died of respiratory failure February 29, 2004, at Walter Reed Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C. He was 68.

As the service began, Chaplain Douglas Fenton quoted Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., who said you have to earn your way to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Potts earned his way with a distinguished 30-year military career that included four tours overseas. He served in key logistics posts in Vietnam and Korea. He also received the Order of Merit from Turkey, where he had been a military attache.

Retired General Ronald Hite, the chairman and chief executive officer of Cypress International, where Potts worked, was the first person to deliver remarks at Monday's chapel service.

Hite recalled that Potts received a lung transplant three years ago in Pittsburgh, but his health started going downhill about 18 months ago.

“Our only consolation, as we mourn the loss of this dear, dear friend is that he's no longer in pain,” Hite said.

The voice of J. Stanley Fossick, grew husky with emotion as he recalled his lifelong friendship with Potts.

Fossick talked about how Potts joked about taking a hard lick when he played for the 1952 state championship football team at Central High School in Columbia.

Potts went on to receive a football scholarship from Vanderbilt University and played for the Commodores when they won the Gator Bowl in 1956.

When Potts received his first star as a general, Fossick said, just about every member of that Vanderbilt team attended the ceremony.

Before the eulogy, Chaplain Grace Hollis sang “Amazing Grace.” At the conclusion of the song, Hollis whispered, “God bless you,” to Potts' wife of 46 years, Peggy, and his family in the front row.

Retired Marine Corps Gen. Al Gray followed with a eulogy that was both poignant and funny.

Gray said Potts was probably looking down on the service and saying, “Ha! I'm still in charge.”

Potts had two brothers who also served in the military. Gene Potts served 30 years in Army, and Donnie Potts served 23 years in the Air Force. Both died last August.

The family's military tradition continues with Bill Potts' son, Gary, a lieutenant colonel in the Army. Lt. Col. Potts read a prayer from an anonymous author near the end of Monday's 35-minute chapel service.

The prayer included the following passage. “Miss me a little, but not too long. And not with your head bowed low.”

Eight Army pallbearers covered the flag on Potts' casket with plastic to protect it from a light rain. Then a military procession including three soldiers atop six horses took Potts' casket to his burial ground.

Upon the casket's arrival, Potts received a two-star general's salute of 13 cannon shots. After remarks by Fenton and Chaplain Harold Cline, Potts received a 21-gun salute, the Army's final farewell to a fallen soldier. A bugler then played “Taps.”

As Fossick said about his friend during the chapel service, “What you saw was what you got. And with Billy, you got a lot.”



  • DATE OF BIRTH: 12/09/1935
  • DATE OF DEATH: 02/29/2004

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