Ted H. Potter
Ted enrolled at Baker in the fall of 1950 and went on to letter three years in basketball and four years in tennis. In tennis, he was one of, if not the first, conference tennis champions at Baker and repeated that the next year. In his senior year, he finished second in conference, losing in four sets to fellow Baker teammate and future Athletic Hall of Fame Inductee Don Kukuk. In 1951, Ted received the Athlete of the Year award. In 1953 he qualified for the National NAIA tournament in Abilene, Texas, and finished as the national runner-up. In his four years of college competition he never lost a conference match to anyone from another school. Former Coach Russ Davee said, “Ted is the most feared player (tennis) in the conference. He is in a class by himself.”
On campus, Ted belonged to the “B” Club, was a class officer and a member of the Zeta Chi fraternity, where he also served as president his senior year. Following his graduation in 1954 with a bachelor’s degree in art, he was drafted into the Army where he played tennis for the Special Services. After completing his military service, he continued his education in the arts and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from the California College of Arts and Crafts. He also studied art at the University of Kansas and at the University of California at Berkeley. He once said, “All I ever wanted to be was a good painter.”
The realities of making a living dictated that he turn his full-time attention to arts administration, and in 1967 he was named executive director of the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, N.C. He remained in that position until 1991, having brought visionary and dynamic leadership to enlarging and improving the center while acquiring significant national funding for numerous programs of his design that continue this day. He went on to other significant positions in the arts, including executive director/CEO of the Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida, executive director of the Contemporary Art Center in New Orleans, and associate professor and director of the Anderson Gallery at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va.
Through the years he continued painting and developed a loyal following of individuals and collectors across the country. His longtime friend, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Edward Albee, said of Ted, “We think alike. He is a national treasure.” The New York Times headlines said upon his passing after losing his fight with pancreatic cancer in November 2006, “Contemporary art has lost a good one.”