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10 Sam Potter

Sam Potter
Hometown (Last School)
Kona, KY
1933-34, 1934-35
March 17, 1914

Obituary – Athlete, coach, educator Sam Potter dies, Lexington Herald-Leader (June 30, 1995) by Jennifer Hewlett

Several things about Sam Potter set him apart.

For one, he received worldwide attention in 1931 when Ripley’s Believe It or Not featured him as the nation’s leading football scorer. He had scored 234 points in nine games for an unbeaten Whitesburg High School team.

He also was one of a small number of people who lettered in football and basketball at the University of Kentucky. Mr. Potter also was an award-winning coach and a member of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame.

Mr. Potter, a former superintendent of Shelbyville and Lynch independent school systems, died Wednesday at Central Baptist Hospital. He was 81 and lived at 3336 High Hope Road in Lexington.

“He had a way of getting the best out of everybody,” said John Haynes, a Shelby County High School guidance counselor who had worked with Mr. Potter.

“His administrative ability went back to his coaching ability of being able to inspire people to do their best.”

Mr. Potter, a native of Millstone in Letcher County, lettered in football in 1934 and 1935 and in basketball in 1934 at UK. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social studies in 1936, and later worked for a credit firm and a manufacturing business in Charleston, W.Va.

He taught social studies and coached several sports at Lynch High School from 1944 to 1953. He was principal of that school from 1953 to 1960. He was superintendent of the Lynch independent school district from 1960 to 1966.

His Lynch football teams’ record was 76-19-6. His 1951-53 teams won 30 consecutive regular season games. He was named Louisville Courier-Journal Coach of the Year in 1953 and was runner-up the previous year. He was coach of the East All-Stars, which upset the favored West, led by eventual Heisman Trophy winner Paul Hornung, 14-13.

“He was just an outstanding coach and a nice man,” said Cawood Ledford, former radio voice of the UK Wildcats sports teams.

Mr. Potter became superintendent of Shelbyville independent schools in 1966, and a group of Lynch educators followed him.

Lynch “was a mining town and it was closing down, and they were merging with the county school system,” said Haynes, who had been an athlete at Lynch during Mr. Potter’s tenure as coach.

Mr. Potter stayed in his Shelbyville position until 1974, retiring as the city and county school systems there were merging. He later became a construction consultant for Sherman/Carter/Barnhart Architects in Lexington, traveling throughout the state to give advice on the construction of new schools, jails and other buildings.

“He was extremely interested in education and children,” Haynes said. Mr. Potter also helped the Shelby independent school system get on its feet financially, he said.

“He was a master storyteller, and I loved to sit and listen to him talk … He’d seen so much and done so much with so many people.”

Mr. Potter, who received a master’s degree from UK in 1955 and did further graduate study in school administration there, was inducted into the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 1991.

Surviving are his wife, Peggy Simpson Potter; two sons, Sam Potter Jr. of Kingsport, Tenn., and Dub Potter of Shepherdsville; a daughter, Robin Anne Potter of Lexington; a brother; a sister; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Services will be at 3 p.m. Saturday at Trinity Hill United Methodist Church, Lexington. Visitation will be 6 to 9 p.m. today at W.R. Milward Mortuary – Southland, Lexington. Contributions are suggested to the Trinity Hill United Methodist Church Helping Hands Program.

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