Potts remembered for 'servant leadership'


Family and friends remembered Wayne Potts' life of service during his funeral Tuesday.

Potts, 79, was a Mayfield city councilman and former mayor and a U.S. Air Force veteran. He died Saturday at Baptist Health Paducah.

Visitors to Northside Baptist Church saw Potts' U.S. Air Force uniform on display, along with his medals and a framed photo of him in uniform. His casket also featured Air Force insignia.

The Rev. Monte Hodges noted that Potts served his church as a deacon and in taking meals to shut-ins and served his community as a former police officer and during his career with the U.S. Postal Service. He also served through his volunteer efforts, including at American Legion Post 26.

Hodges read from John 12:26, which says, "If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my father honor."

"He served his country," Hodges said. "He served his family. He served his community. He served wherever he could."

His two sons, Tony and Travis, were among his eulogists.

Travis Potts told a story he had heard about when his father was a boy, a classmate had to go without shoes to school a couple of days because he didn't have any. Other children were making fun of him. Potts gave the boy one of his shoes so they both walked around with one, both looking the same, he said.

Brig. Gen. Tony Potts talked about how his father rose from a poor farm family to mayor, although he said he never quite mastered being a politician, instead being a bit of a prankster at times and blunt to a fault.

"Dad would be surprised to see so many people in attendance," Tony Potts said. "He saw himself as a simple man who simply wanted to do good."

As mayor, he drove around with a shovel and rake in the back of his truck, personally cleaning out ditches, he said. He removed dead animals from the road and vacuumed the city pool.

"He just wanted to make a difference in people's lives," Tony Potts said. "He didn't see social, economic or racial lines."

Although God came first, with church the priority over weekend baseball games, as his children remembered, Tony said few realized the absolute commitment he had to his family. He had been selected to be the youngest chief master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, but retired instead, moving back to Kentucky so his wife, Barbara, could spend time with her terminally ill father before his passing.

He and Barbara married when she was 17 and he was 19 and spent the next 60 years together. They had four children, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

The Rev. Al Chandler gave a message from First Thessalonians chapter 2, beginning, "For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain."

Chandler said Potts "didn't come in vain to lift himself up." Instead, he and the others said, Potts was a servant leader, caring for others and working for the glory of God.