5 years later

I do believe this is the song Dad would be shouting out in every possible way to this world of five years later. As you likely know, he would find some of the current happenings unbearable. So would Mama. It’s strange to be almost grateful they’re not here to witness the widespread injustice.

I found this in one of his files the other day…


That was Jack.

Here’s a song for you, Daddy.

Where you are, I hope you get to jam with Aretha now…Thank you, JackPotts, for your immense light that still shines on…




the gospel according to jack

Final Memorial Program copy - Version 2

I spoke these words at Dad’s service, and several people asked me to post them.  Since composing this, I have thought only about how  incomplete it is.  So much could be said about the remarkable way Dad lived out his life. Perhaps some of you would like to say more. I welcome your additions.

Dad wasn’t much of a rules person. But he was very principled. I’ve tried to compose some of the principles he lived by, whether he spoke of them or not. As I see it, this is 

the gospel according to jack potts:

There’s nothing that can’t be done with kindness. 

Life is a very fun adventure.

When it comes to trust or distrust, err on the side of trust. You may get burned ( and Dad did get burned) and getting burned will hurt. But your own integrity will remain intact.

We are here for each other.

When you’re in a new place, go for a run & check it all out. Dad ran through the streets of London, Rome, Jerusalem, D.C., Chicago, and various other cities. He always came home with stories to tell of what he saw.

No matter how many divorces you have had, your are still worthy of love.

Always think with your heart. Continue reading


I’ll always think of you that way


We should all be so lucky as to have people in our lives who step in during times of loss and do what is exactly needed for the heart to absorb the intensity of grief, and for the body to continue to function. I am one of those fortunate ones.

So much gratitude for presence, word, touch, silence, service. The outpouring has been astonishing.

A song gift from my papa:


blowing his heart out

Flagstaff, AZ

circa 1930-32

On the courthouse lawn in the summer, The National Guard Band would play every Friday night. Dad and his own band of friends would get up as close as they could to the stage. He would scrutinize the trombonists.

When John Phillip Sousa came to town, Jack had the measles. So he listened to the whole concert from the family car.

A few years later, at 8 or 9, Dad opened a used trombone for Christmas. It came from Harper’s Furniture & Pawn Shop, and was something of a clunker. He wired it together in spots, and stuck chewing gum over the leaks. Then took it up to the hill over town and blew his heart out all day.

He didn’t stop blowing his heart out. In Jr. high, he needed a new horn. It was 1940. First he sold magazines, netting 5, 10 or at the most, 25 cents. Then he graduated to magazine subscriptions. American, Colliers, Women Home Magazine, even Saturday Evening Post made him about 2.50 per sign-up. His parents kicked in some financial help. The new Tommy Dorsey model cost $125. It had a sterling silver bell, silver-plated slides, and some gold plate. He’s been blowing that trombone for 73 years.


John C. Potts Jr.

dad foot on chair

May 8, 1924 – August 16, 2013

Please join us for a celebration of Dad’s life Friday, August 23rd at 2pm, at the Presbyterian Church of Laurelhurst, 935 NE 33rd, Portland, OR.

Memorial contributions may be sent to Presbyterian Church of Laurelhurst or Northwest Pilot Project.


beer for breakfast

Dad is now confined to bed. Until Friday, he was getting up, slowly moving, and making his way outside. It’s his favorite time of year, and this has been, weather-wise, the loveliest summer I can remember in Portland. Dad has always loved being outdoors. He and I took a trip to the coast about a month ago, and basked on the beach until the sun went down. I have so many memories of basking in the sun with Dad.

He dreams about dying. The other morning he told me, “I thought I crossed the river four times last night.” About two months ago he asked his doctor how to die. Dr. Yates, a very gracious man, told him, “You, Jack, will die how you lived. You will fully be there until your last moment.” He went on to tell him that the strong ones usually take longer to go, for the life force is so huge. He also told Dad what an inspiration he has been to him. “I tell everyone the Jack Potts story.” We were all in tears at this appointment. Continue reading


a life well lived

Lois Bergstrom & Dad

Lois Bergstrom & Dad at his birthday dinner, May, 2012


Six months ago, Dad was riding his bike back and forth from the Kennedy School to the Laurelhurst district, in Portland.

At the start of last week, Dad signed up for hospice. The fight to stay alive has been gracefully conceded.

Thank you so very much, all of you, for your healing prayers and the beautiful messages you have sent. We who love him have so wished for something different. Instead, we are facing the end of this beloved life. Continue reading


intrinsic leanings

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                                       Charismatic charm.                                                  Generous aura.

             IMG_1858  Jack YL Ldr

Captivating smile.                                                        Conversationally quicker than a blink.



                                                                           dad breakaway
Jack is resourceful!
When the former Laurelhurst and Central Presbyterian churches merged in 1972, the three of us were part of the painting team in Central church’s pastor’s office.  There were many nail holes left in the walls from hanging  pictures, photos, etc.  Most people would “spackle” the holes in preparation to paint.  However, Jack just happened to have some toothpaste with him and he adroitly filled the holes with some toothpaste.  Looked great to us!
Resourceful Jack would be the guy to have on your ship when it wrecked and you were waiting on a deserted island to be rescued! Continue reading



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In life we meet and interact with such a wide diversity of people, if we are lucky.
I am certainly lucky. I think we universally rely on our intuitive self, our radar a lot.
Perhaps it’s just my experience or perhaps it’s more universal than I know, but the people who make the biggest impression are the people who try the least. They are just who they are, comfortable in their own skin and true to themselves and honest about it. Jack is one of those people. I shouldn’t be able to say I should know Jack well just based only on the amount of time we have spent together, but I can’t help but  think I know him very well, because Jack is who he is, all the time. There’s an openness, a clarity, consistency, gentleness and strength that one gets from being with Jack. He is one of those folks that I look at and say I wish I were more like him, more empathic, more present, more constant, more open, playful, spontaneous and generous. You don’t have to guess about Jack he just is who he is, a truly good man who has no idea how much impact he has had just by being Jack. I don’t know Jack but I do know Jack and it is an immense privilege. Continue reading