The Potters: Where It All Began

Lauryn Beam, Guest Writer~

Lynchburg College is known for its traditions and the small-town feel, and love stories are not new to our campus. Dr. Clifton and Dorothy Potter are LC alums that met here on our campus 57 years ago. They crossed paths on their own journeys here at LC and created a beautiful story along the way.

Clifton and Dorothy Bundy Potter (née Turner) met at LC in September of 1960 during Dr. Dorothy Potter’s freshmen week. Dr. Clifton Potter, a junior and the president of the Baptist Student Union, was leading a church bus-tour trip led by the organization. He was arriving at the bus that day, and the only other person to arrive there before him was  Dorothy “Bundy” Turner.  Their first conversation happened on this bus trip. Potter approached Turner and said, “Excuse me, is this seat taken?” to which she responded “No.” When he asked, “Do you mind if I join you?” she said, “suit yourself.” Turner did not know who he was until he later introduced himself as the president of the Baptist Student Union.

The bus tour ended and Turner continued through her freshmen week. When the week came to a close, classes began. As Turner was waiting in her first class of second-level French in Hopwood Hall, Potter walked in. Initially, Potter was not going to acknowledge Turner, and instead sit with friends in the back of the class, but next thing she knew, Potter came up to her and the same bus conversation happened again, but this time in French. Just like that their friendship began.  

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Photo retrieved from Lynchburg College archives. Halloween 1979

Although Turner had originally intended to transfer after her first year, she changed her mind after the first semester and decided not to transfer from Lynchburg. After attending her classes she realized how friendly the people on LC’s campus actually were. As Dorothy Potter stated: “I enjoyed it so much, I decided to come back and teach.”  Potter spent a lot of time at LC while growing up, so he decided to pursue his collegiate education here. Potter also forged a close relationship with faculty here on campus, such as the former Dean Taylor.  While reading articles and biographies about the Hopwood family, he learned about and agreed with Dr. Josephus Hopwood’s belief and style of education, and to this day Potter still agrees with those beliefs.

After he received his undergraduate degree, Potter went on to graduate school at the University of Virginia. By this time, Potter and Turner were officially in a relationship.  After Turner finished her undergraduate studies at LC, she attended UVA as well. At UVA, they became known as the history department romance. After a time there, Potter received his master’s degree, and he and Turner became engaged in 1964. They were officially married in June of 1966, five days after Turner graduated with her masters. They both went back to school at a later time to receive their doctorates from UVA. Clifton Potter received his doctorate in 1970, while Dorothy Potter waited quite awhile to go back. After simultaneously being a mom and teaching at LC, Dorothy Potter went back to UVA for her doctorate and graduated in 2000.   

The Potters shared an office at LC in the history house, with their desks right across from each other.  Clifton Potter is still an active history professor, while Dorothy Potter retired this past May, although she is still very active on campus. They have completed many works together, including the National Landmark application for Hopwood Hall, as well as writing a play in 2003 about the history of LC. When they both were students here, they were very involved in the publication groups on campus, the Prism and the Critograph. They also enjoyed the theatre. According to them, one of their favorite parts of attending LC was the friendships that were created, some of which include Dr. Julius Sigler and Mrs. Jan Sigler.

Today, they both enjoy spoiling their grandchildren, reading and researching. The Potters began their love story at LC, and they are both still here helping enrich the college and the lives of its students.