University of North Dakota Faculty/Staff Newsletter

Remembering Rev. Gerald Potter

The Rev. Gerald L. Potter, Associate Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Religion and Priest of the Diocese of gerald-potter-2Fargo passed away Sunday, April 21, 2013 in Prairie View, 4000 Valley Square in Grand Forks.  He was 85.

Gerald L. Potter was born July 15, 1927 in Minneapolis to Joseph A. and Mary Eileen (Uriell) Potter. He attended St. Bridget’s Grade School, De LaSalle High School in Minneapolis and St. John’s Preparatory High School in Collegeville, Minn.  He graduated from St. John’s University in 1949 with degrees in English, Philosophy and History. During his college years, he was known for his theatrical role of Hamlet.

He studied Theology at St. John’s University, Collegeville, MN and graduated from St. Bonaventure Seminary, in New York. He was ordained a Roman Catholic Priest for the Diocese of Fargo on June 5, 1954 in the Cathedral of St. Paul. Fr. Potter was assigned as the Parochial Vicar of St. Mary’s Cathedral and instructor of Religion at Shanley High School in Fargo. During this time, he became Parochial Vicar of St. Paul’s Newman Center, North Dakota State University and Editor of the Catholic Action News.

Fr. Potter was assigned as the Parochial Vicar of St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center, University of North Dakota from 1957-1960. During the summer months, Fr. Potter pursued advanced theological studies at the University of Notre Dame; eventually receiving a Master of Arts in Early Christian Literature. He also studied at the Angelicum University and the Gregorian University in Rome, Italy, culminating in the writing of his Doctoral Dissertation, “The Idea of Preaching According to John Henry Cardinal Newman.”

In 1964, Fr. Potter began teaching in the Religious Studies Department of the University of North Dakota. He was appointed chair of the department and was instrumental in merging the Philosophy and Religious Studies Departments. During this time, he served as a Priest at St. Anne’s Guest Home in Grand Forks, the Grand Forks Air Force Base, and substituted in parishes throughout the Diocese of Fargo. He retired from teaching in 1997. During most summers, he traveled to Europe and he treasured his relationships with his European friends. He cultivated a life long love of Shakespeare, opera and classical music. He loved foreign travel, hunting and visiting with his friends over a glass of wine. He especially enjoyed spending time and hunting with his close friends in the Balta, Fillmore and Esmond areas of North Dakota.

He is survived by his sister, Patricia Potter-Keays (John), Tucson, Ariz.; a number of nieces, nephews; great nieces and great nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents and youngest sister, Eileen Potter-Simmons.

Mass of Christian Burial: 11 a.m. Thursday, April 25, in St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center, University of North Dakota.

Visitation: 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday with a 4:30 p.m. rosary service and a 7 p.m. vigil service in the Newman Center Chapel. Visitation will continue for one hour prior to the liturgy in the chapel on Thursday.

Honor Guard: 4th Degree Knights of Columbus, Bishop Provencher Assembly 1578.

Burial: St. John’s Abbey Cemetery, Collegeville, Minn., at a later date.

The online memorial registry may be signed at .

Courtesy of the Historic Norman Funeral Home, Grand Forks, and the Grand Forks Herald.