Wilma Maxine Potts
August 8, 1923 – July 2, 2018
Wilma Maxine Dyer Potts was born on an otherwise uneventful Wednesday, August 8, 1923, while her mother was visiting friends and relatives in Glenpool, Oklahoma. She died early Monday morning, July 2, 2018, peacefully and without any stress or struggle. She was 5 weeks and 2 days shy of her 95th birthday.
Wilma was the first born of three girls and the last of the three to die. Preceding her in death were the middle sister, Lilly Mae Autry, and the youngest sister, Dolores Boyd. The three sisters were all born to Willie and Etta Horner. Willie died in the Eastern Oklahoma Tuberculosis Sanatorium when Wilma was 14. Etta remarried Lawerance “Buck” Dyer, who adopted the three sisters as his own.
On February 14, 1950, Wilma wed Joseph Floyd Potts, Jr. in First Baptist Church, Fort Smith, Arkansas. She was a member of First Baptist Church when she died. A conservative estimate would indicate that Wilma attended church more than 10,000 times between 1950 and 2018. If she was wrong that God's grace paves the way to heaven, she has her works as a backup.
Her life was changed forever beginning in the summer of 1952. She began having kids. Three of them. The oldest was Joseph Floyd Potts, III, born without fear, the family daredevil. In the middle was Elizabeth Lynette Potts Layden, the socialite. The youngest and the easiest to raise was...well me, Timothy David Potts. I learned how to negotiate and avoid lots of trouble by watching my older siblings. I will always be grateful for their sacrifice. At one time or the other, we were all Mom's greatest disappointment and always her proudest accomplishment. But every day of our lives, we knew Mom loved us more than her own life. But we were the Potts kids. It was our nature to be trying. We never were boring. Mother was a wonderful daughter, a responsible daughter that excelled in school and was a constant help at home. As an adult, she was always there to help and aide Granny when needed. Granny once said that, “I never had to worry about Wilma. I could always count on her to do the right thing.” Although Mother never smoked and claimed she never drank alcohol, she finally admitted that she had once ordered a Tom Collins with her best friend Katherine, but after tasting it, she never drank again.
Mother was a great wife. She was married to our dad, Joe Potts, until his death. They loved each other through 61 anniversaries. Mom had the freedom and voiced her opinion to Dad throughout their lives together, but when raising their children they were always a united front. They were our parents, not our best friends. None of us went to prison (except for Lynette and me, and that was to sing to the inmates with the church youth choir). But facing life together, they were bound together as husband and wife in a relationship that God instructed, a marriage relationship where the two should become one.
Wilma had six grandchildren, Missy, Timothy, Andrew, Joseph IV, Michelle, and Michael. She had four great-grandchildren.
Mother lived in a time when women seldom were recognized as they should have been for their accomplishments, but Mother was accomplished where it counted. She was part of a generation where women were taught that a woman’s place was in the home. She exceeded the world’s expectation of what a “good wife” was supposed to be. She kept a clean house, supper was always prepared, cooked, and on the table for her husband and children. She made sure her children were up, dressed, and off to school on time. She insisted her children read their lesson on Saturday night to be prepared for Sunday School Class. Suzy Homemaker had to have felt the pressure that Mom was going exceed her as the perfect homemaker. But Mother was much more.
Growing up, while Dad was at work, she could also be the plumber, electrician, and painter. More than once I remember Mother was at the sewing machine making clothes or drapes or something when everybody went to bed, and she was still sewing when everybody woke up. I remember walking through the kitchen and stopped to watch her, intrigued, as she changed out a light fixture. She subscribed to Better Homes and Gardens but was just as likely to be seen reading Handyman or Workbench. And her story doesn’t stop here.
Mother was the valedictorian of the Roland High School Class of 1942. There may have been only 15 in her class, but she was still the top student. After high school, she worked in Washington D.C. for the FBI as a proof reader in the FBI print shop. She was a bookkeeper who always “balanced to the penny.” In the 1950s, she was a partner for a time in a livestock commission company. After her children were raised, Wilma became a realtor and helped hundreds of people buy or sell their homes. As Mom was rolled on her bed into Mercy's hospice floor, the nurse who assisted Mom reintroduced herself, telling Mom that she was still in the house she helped her and her husband buy more than 30 years ago. She was still grateful to Mom for her help. Mom's real estate career lasted more than 35 years. Mother did all this and more, but her primary life’s purpose was to live a life that honored God. She believed in prayer and prayed without ceasing. She loved her church, she loved singing in the choir, and she loved going to her Sunday School class. She loved her husband, her children, her grandchildren, her great grandchildren, her church and her church friends, her clients and coworkers, and her friends and neighbors. She was able to love all these people because she loved Jesus and always strived to put God first.
- Joseph Floyd Potts, Jr., Husband
- Joseph Floyd Potts, III and wife Tina, Son
- Lynette Layden and husband Harry, Daughter
- Timothy David Potts and wife Brenda, Son
- Lilly Mae Autry, Sister
- Dolores Boyd, Sister
- Wilma is also survived by her six grandchildren, Missy, Timothy, Andrew, Joseph IV, Michelle and Michael; and four great-grandchildren.
3300 South 70th Street, Fort Smith, Arkansas 72903
First Baptist Church / 60+ Adult Ministry
PO Box 609, Fort Smith, Arkansas 72902
Wilma Maxine Potts
July 17, 2018
I'M SO VERY SORRY ABOUT WILMA... SHE WAS ONE OF MY FAVORITE PEOPLE.... . I MISS SEEING AND TALKING TO HER ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT DINNERS AT FIRST BAPTIST. I'LL ALWAYS REMEMBER HER PROTECTING HER DAUGHTER, VIRGINIA, WHEN VIRGINIA RAN WITH MY SISTER, WANDA... CERTAIN BOYS WERE NOT PERMITTED... (No, not me. She liked me.) Anyhow, she was one great lady... I'll miss her....
July 16, 2018
Mrs. Potts was one of the first people to welcome us to the neighborhood in 2011. It was already dark outside one night when we heard a knock at our door. She introduced herself to us, she gave us a dessert that she had made for our family, and she made sure that we had her phone number.
I took her dish back to her one evening, and she invited me to come inside to sit for a chat. Mrs. Potts spoke so lovingly about her late-husband, Joseph, and about her children; she also talked about her past work as a realtor, which she was very proud of.
Before I left, Mrs. Potts said that our conversation had made her day. She didn’t realize that our conversation had made my day as well, since my grandmother, Katherine, had passed away almost a year prior to this encounter. Mrs. Potts love of family stirred up memories of my own grandmother as I listened to her, which made for a lovely visit.
Mrs. Potts was a wonderful neighbor, and a very sweet lady. We’re grateful that we had the opportunity to get acquainted with her.
Our deepest sympathy,
The Christian family
July 11, 2018
My condolences to the family and friends. May the hope we have for the very near future help you endure these difficult times, 2 Corinthians 1:3,4.
July 5, 2018
Wilma Pott's life has been a beautiful influence upon mine for many years. Having grown up in First Baptist Church, Fort Smith, both Wilma and Joe's faithfulness to the Lord and their church affected my life. I thank our Lord for Wilma's consistent witness for the Lord by both action and her words. What a prayer warrior she was and so committed to requesting others to spend time in our church's prayer room. I was overjoyed at one of the 60+ Bible studies to hear her share that since Joe would share the gospel with unsolicited advertisers on the phone, that after his homegoing she began doing the same. What a beautiful life Wilma had with her love of the Lord, her family, and her church so evident. My prayers are for the family in the present loss of their mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.