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Alum gives generous gift as 75th reunion approaches

potterDr. Carleton Potter ’40 will be returning to Cornell to celebrate his 75th reunion this June. Potter, who practiced in Cortland County for almost 60 years, is truly an example of Cornell pride running in a family.

Potter was born just a month after his father, Wilburn Potter, received his veterinary degree from Cornell University. Growing up, Potter was always interested in animal health, especially large animals and he aspired to have a career in veterinary medicine like his father.

“My father received his veterinary degree from Cornell in 1918, I guess we’re a Cornell family in a way,” said Potter

After completing his one-year prerequisite at the Agricultural College at Cornell, Potter applied to the Veterinary College and was chosen as one of the forty class members out of 250 applicants.

Potter’s time at the College, a time when only four women were in the class, is filled with many memories of classes and favorite professors. A small class size allowed Potter to know Dr. William Hagan well.

“Dr. Hagan was dean and s bacteriology professor and I enjoyed his approach very much,” said Potter. “We got to know each other due to only 40 of us being in the class and I speak very highly of him.”

After graduation, Potter went to work in Claremont, New Hampshire until he visited Cornell in 1941 and connected with a veterinarian from Lawrence, Massachusetts who was in need of a new partner. Here he worked mostly with large animals in a mill town where cows were treated as part of the family.

After three years in Lawrence, Potter returned to Central New York to work in Homer were he focused mainly on large animal, 90 percent of which was dairy work. He built a clinic in Homer for small animals, but treated most large animal cases in his home, customary at the time.

potter“I was raised on a dairy farm and would go on calls with my father,” said Potter. “This influenced me to work with large animals.”

Many other members of Potter’s family also have ties to Cornell. Along with his father, three of Potters siblings were graduates of Cornell. In 1943, Potter married Marian Wightman ‘40 and, out of their six children, three attended Cornell. Following Marian’s death, Potter married Esther Forbes, a Cornell graduate whose father also attended Cornell.

“Last time we counted, it was about 52 Cornell alums in our combined family,” said Potter of his and Esther’s families.

The legacy of Potter’s family continues to benefit future veterinarians at Cornell. Potter recently gave $10,000 to an already established family scholarship, the Wilburn and Florence Potter Scholarship.

“It’s sort of a way of paying back,” said Potter. “We have been involved with Cornell quite extensively; we give to a few family scholarships.”

Now as Potter plans his return to Cornell for his 75th reunion, he looks back at his family legacy with pride.

“Cornell has been a family affair,” said Potter