Ethel 'Eppie' Potts served on the Ann Arbor City Planning Commission as long ago as the 1970's and continued to serve at least through the mid-2000's. As a Planning Commissioner, Potts helped bring about the ordinance establishing the Old West Side as a historic district. She also helped convince City Council to leave the segments of Seventh Street misaligned north-to-south where it intersects Huron Street. Rebuilding the intersection to eliminate the 'jog' would have required the removal of five houses.
After growing up in the west Chicago suburbs, Potts came to Ann Arbor to attend the University of Michigan, and earned a degree in geology. Among the places she lived while studying at the University were the UM Observatory, as well as an apartment along Ingalls Street, where the Modern Languages Building now stands.
Her involvement in the Ann Arbor community is not limited to her role on the Planning Commission, including service to the city's Democratic Party, Friends of Allen's Creek, the Historic Preservation Alliance, and the Ann Arbor Potters Guild. She was a member of the R4C and R2A Zoning District Study Advisory Committee, representing Ann Arbor's Fifth Ward.
Potts first married Bill Lewis, artist and a founder of the Potters Guild, and they had two children, Clayton and Susan. Ethel and Bill later divorced. In the mid-70's she married Robert Potts, who came to Ann Arbor at the behest of Al Wheeler, in order to administer Ann Arbor's Model Cities Program. Robert later served as assistant superintendent of the Ann Arbor Public Schools and as a minister at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. Robert Potts died in December 2005.
In her youth, Potts won national recognition as an oboist.
At the Jan. 20, 2015 meeting of the Ann Arbor City Council Sabra Briere (Ward 1) read aloud the following statement in recognition of Potts, on the occasion of her 90th birthday the following week.
>>SABRA BRIERE Thank you Mr. Mayor. This one you'll just have to bear with me. Because from time to time we acknowledge people who have made an impact in our lives, and if we are smart we do that before they are no longer here to listen to us. So I first met Eppie Potts in the 70s when we started working together on efforts to protect neighborhoods and to increase citizen participation in politics. She was running for office and did not win her seat on Council at that time, but has continued to fill a role in the public arena discussing issues related to good sound community planning and neighborhood preservation in the face of development pressures. Eppie has served our community well, her tenacity on zoning and planning issues and her willingness to continue to persevere despite losing a point or two here and there over the year, has inspired many people to remain active in both preservation and in advocating for appropriate changes. She served on the Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals which is one of her favorite roles, as well as working with many of the groups that help shape our civic life, including Preservation Alliance and the Friends of Allen Creek. And by the way, she would really like to see the Greenway at least started one of these days. Maybe you remember that she was awarded the Preservationist of the Year last summer but you might not know that she remains an active potter with a national reputation. And you may have forgotten that she first came to Ann Arbor to study music. Did you know that she was a nationally recognized oboist? We are all made up of such wonderful material. Sometimes a recognition like this sounds as if someone's time here is limited. Eppie is too busy for that. She's concerned that she must focus on just a few of the many important issues that face us and she expects that we will listen when her well-considered views on those issues are expressed. Eppie celebrates her 90th birthday next week. I wanted a moment tonight to celebrate her. [Applause]
- City of Ann Arbor committee listings for Ethel Potts
- Ethel Potts stories on AnnArbor.com
- Ethel Potts stories on Ann Arbor Chronicle
- Ethel Potts stories in Heritage Media newspapers
- Ethel Potts stories in the Google News archives
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