Rochester Rotary Dedicates Park Monument to Community Leader Bill Potere

Almost 100 people gathered in Rotary Gateway Park earlier this month, next to the library in Downtown Rochester, to witness the dedication of a new sundial monument. Inscribed on the front, the word IMAGINE, succinctly encapsulated the life of a Rochester community leader, the late William R. Potere.

The two men stand next to the monument, which rises to waist height with wording on the front and the sundial on top

Garth Pleasant (left) Bill Ebinger (right) at the Dedication Ceremony

Bill Potere grew up in Rochester and eventually took over his father’s funeral home, which is now called the Potere-Modetz Funeral Home. Unbeknownst to many, Bill was the quiet visionary behind many aspects of Rochester’s most well-known institutions including the Arts & Apples Festival, the Christmas Parade, and the Rochester Downtown Development Authority.

Bill was also a dedicated member of the Rochester Rotary Club, spending many years volunteering and raising money for local and international charities.

“Bill Potere was a quiet, imaginative leader,” said fellow Rotary member Bill Ebinger. “Someone would come to him with a problem and then Bill would come back, an hour, a day, a week later with an idea that somehow worked perfectly for everyone involved. He was a real visionary and Rochester wouldn’t be the same without him.”

The word "IMAGINE" inscribed under the phrase "In Memory of William R. Potre"


At Rotary Park

Several people made moving tributes to Bill during the dedication including former Rochester College basketball coach Garth Pleasant and funeral home director John Modetz.

Bob Lytle, founder of Lytle Pharmacy and noted children’s author, also read a poem he wrote in honor of Bill.

A Poem by Robert Lytle
We’ll miss him when we need someone to imagine up a scheme
To make our town a better place – to be captain of our team.
Born and raised in Rochester, his father’s funeral home
Got him nicknamed “Digger” before he was half grown.
Even then, if troubles ‘rose, his pals would come and say,
“We got this problem, Digger. Can you fix it – yesterday?
And they’d step back and watch him work, might be an hour or two.
Then he’d say, “I got it, boys. Here’s what you should do.”
And always it was fair for all, sensible and bright.
He’d get us on the straightest course – and it would turn out right.
‘Cuz Digger had this special gift, imagining a way
To solve a challenge, great or small, and make it go away.
So as he grew, when troubles faced us in our growing town
With Art ‘n Apples, Rotary, our rivers, up and down,
Well, always there was Digger, his cleverness, we knew,
Would solve it for the DDA, his league or Oakland U.
Imagine’s what he did the best. He did it for us all,
From thorny downtown matters to teeing up a ball.
We’ll miss him most when someone needs to ‘magine up a way
To make our town a better place to live and work and play.


About Rochester Rotary

Celebrating 60 years as a club in 2014, Rochester Rotary is one of 34,000 member clubs of Rotary International, which has more than 1.2 million members and raises and disburses funds for charitable, educational and scientific purposes. Monies are raised through social events and service projects organized by the club, ‘fines’ collected at Rochester Rotary meetings and gifts offered to the club through members and supporters.

The club welcomes new members who live or work in Rochester, Rochester Hills or Oakland Township. For membership information, contact Jeff Whitbey at Rochester Rotary meets each Tuesday at noon at the River Crest Banquet Hall at Avon Road and Livernois, in Rochester Hills.

About Rotary International

Rotary’s main objective is service — in the community, in the workplace, and around the globe. The 1.2 million Rotarians who hail from Rotary clubs in nearly every country in the world share a dedication to the ideal of Service Above Self. Rotary clubs are open to people of all cultures and ethnicities and are not affiliated with any political or religious organizations.

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