Story by Dan Hust
CALLICOON Seems Lawrence “Rob” Potter was known as a true “gentle”-man.
The Democrat’s Facebook page was filled with such comments this week after news spread that the paper’s longtime sports editor had unexpectedly passed away Tuesday.
“What a kind man Rob was. Even though I graduated high school 10 years ago, Rob always made it a point to say hello to me by name at sporting events,” remarked Megan Eggleton of Jeffersonville.
“Always had a smile and a greeting for the folks wearing the stripes in gyms across Sullivan County,” noted Joe Loughlin of Rock Hill, a longtime basketball referee.
“What a gentle soul that touched so many lives in the community. You will be missed,” added Diana Duffy of Bloomingburg.
“Rob,” wrote sport parent Sandy Taggart of Livingston Manor, “you were such a kind soul who went above and beyond. Your kindness and dedication toward the Livingston Manor athletes will not be forgotten. I hope you know how much you touched the lives of the athletes, parents, and friends of our sports programs.”
What was anticipated to be a short hospital stay for an intestinal blockage turned into a battle with cancer this month, but until this week, Rob’s coworkers and sports contacts expected he’d soon be back in the field.
Indeed, the sports fields of Sullivan County and beyond had long beckoned to the Eagle Scout and Hancock High School alumnus, who after graduating from Penn State with a journalism degree joined the Democrat in 1997 as a full-time general assignment reporter.
His love of a good game quickly proved apparent, and Rob became the sports editor in 2001.
“He was always a professional in every sense of the word, as he knew all of our athletes and coaches (by name) and consistently generated positive features in his articles and did so with the best interest of the competing youngsters in mind,” remarked Fallsburg Central School Athletic Director Tim Bult.
“Rob was a great guy and a great photographer and reporter who was always positive,” agreed Fallsburg’s track coach, Brian Cavanagh. “He will always be remembered for his contributions to the young and the young-at-heart who played sports in Sullivan County. He set an example for what a sportswriter should be.”
Rob’s seat currently sits empty, and while the Democrat will continue to vigorously cover local sports, Rob’s absence will remain a painful one.
“It would be a major understatement to say that this is simply a loss to our community,” said Bult. “I have worked with Rob for years while serving as an athletic director in Sullivan County, and the thought of not having him on our sidelines of an athletic contest covering Sullivan County sports in the future is a very difficult one.”
But he won’t be forgotten.
“The spot on the baseline, notebook in hand, will always be his,” affirmed Loughlin.
Not just sports
“Rob was our go-to guy for a lot of things,” Fred Stabbert III, Sullivan County Democrat publisher, said. “It was funny: when Rob first started with our team, he was a stringer and lived in Honesdale, PA. He would give his work to our advertising representative and she would bring it into the office.
“We used to joke, ‘Is there a real Rob Potter?’” Stabbert said. “And then when he joined our staff full-time, Rob had his place as Santa during our Christmas parties, designated shopper for the upstairs gang and local authority on Penn State football, Miami Dolphins and New York Yankees history and scholastic sports.
“Rob’s love of sports transcended the game and he always, always went the extra mile to make people happy,” Stabbert remembered. “His passing leaves a void in the Sullivan County sports world, and I know his stories and photos will have new meaning to all those great athletes he touched through the years.
“He was a man whose compassion and love showed through in everything he did. He will be deeply missed.”
Rob’s full obituary, which includes information on calling hours and the funeral, appears on page 2B of today’s issue..