Man Of Year Known For His Positive Attitude

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When people talk about Cliff Potts, the first thing they say is, "Cliff is such a positive person."

His contributions to the Rim Country community and beyond make him the Payson Roundup's Man of the Year.

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Cliff Potts and his wife, Jean, stay young caring for their grandson, Shaun, 5. Potts has been active in the community for as long as he has called the Rim Country home.

"Cliff is such an anchor," said fellow real estate agent Linda Atchison. "You know he is there no matter what kind of help you need." She has movies of Cliff hanging shade at Roosevelt Lake for a Prudential picnic.

"And you swear that he has ears on all four sides of his head -- we could be in a conference room down the hall and he somehow would always know what was going on," Atchison said.

Potts was Atchison's broker and owned Prudential Arrowhead Realty (now Prudential Arizona Properties) when she started there in 1990.

Potts was a charter member of the Arizona Housing Finance Authority in 2001. He served as Vice Chairman and Chairman of AHFA in 2004 and 2005.

"He really understands the need for affordable housing in all communities throughout the state," said current AHFA chairman Sheila Harris.

The major program of AHFA is Homes for Arizonans. It provides first-time homebuyers, of low to moderate means, the opportunity to get really good interest rates.

Many times Potts has arranged for AHFA to speak to people in the community about these programs.

"He particularly pays attention to what is important in Gila County, how the programs that are designed by the authority can best help folks in that area," said Brian Mickelson, Camp Verde city manager and AHFA board member.

"He is very knowledgeable also because of his real estate background that gives him a practical direct understanding of the issues facing first-time home buyers -- how programs are designed and how they actually operate, what their effectiveness is at the point of delivery."

Cliff Potts is a great advocate for giving everyone that first opportunity and beyond according to Harris.

Potts was mayor of Payson from 1994 to 1996.

"I have great respect for him," said former mayor Barbara Brewer. "He was always professional and allowed his council to be decision makers.

"He didn't toot his own horn enough," she added

Even in business, Potts enjoys the lighter side of life.

"At our (Rotary) meetings I look forward to good jokes, having a few laughs with others in town," he said.

But, what he brings to the table is leadership.

"We are an always evolving club with up and down membership," said fellow Rotarian Kevin Dick. "Cliff does a good job of keeping together a good board. He is very positive in his own life as well as when he is dealing with us as a Rotary Club."

Humble is another adjective that people used to describe Potts.

"There is a group of people called on for just about everything -- Bob Dalby, Dan Hill, John Wilson, Celeste Parsons ..." Potts said, then claimed, "I help, but usually there is someone who knows better than I how to get the job done."

Yet, it was Potts, who approached the Sunshine Kids Foundation four years ago about his company sponsoring a fund-raising dance.

"He is a wonderful, enthusiastic man," said Shannon Lillis, director of operations for SKF.

Last year some Arizona children with cancer were able to go on a trip to Hawaii because of funds the dance in Payson and other events raised.

Children with cancer are not the only ones who touch Potts' heart.

He was a Cub master and assistant Scoutmaster when his son Brian was a Boy Scout.

Now he works extensively with adult leaders as a committee chairman.

Just last year Potts earned the Boy Scout's "Silver Beaver" award.

It is the highest award a volunteer ‘scouter' with 10-plus years of service can get at the district or council level.

"The Silver Beaver is pretty exclusive," said Mac Feezor, a unit commissioner with Boy Scouts.

A national court of honor convened in 2007 to honor Potts.

It is important to foster skills and attitudes in youth that will carry them successfully into adulthood, Potts said.

"The boys have more capacity to learn than they are sometimes given credit for," Potts said.

One Scout broke an arm a few years back and the boys splinted his arm and gave proper treatment.

They can make a decent campfire meal, (even though they were scratching their heads at the supermarket and looked completely disorganized while preparing it).

Besides, interacting with youth is fun, he said.

Matt Gartner said he has many fond memories of camping and fishing with Potts, both in Scouts and with the family.

"One time when I was a Scout, camping with him, my tent was set up in front of his truck," Gartner said. "I guess in his sleep he rolled over onto the button on his keys that set off the alarm in his truck so it went off at three in the morning. There were sirens going off and lights flashing in my face. Later on when he went back to sleep, I went back and collapsed his tent on him as a joke."

Potts' soft-spoken voice belies his six-foot-and-then-some frame.

When his 5-year-old grandson Shaun runs up to him arms wide open for a hug, a hug is what he receives before Potts puts him down and sends him off to play.

"I don't know how my dad finds time to sleep with all he does," Tracy Richardson, Potts' daughter said.

She also has fond memories of family vacations.

He is a "good influence" for my children and was there to care for them when I could not, Robinson said.

The Man of 2007's favorite time is that spent with his family.

Monday evenings are special because "the family can reconnect and talk about what is important," he said.

Pictures on the walls of the Potts' home reflect his love of family.

"And my efforts at bidding at charity auctions over the years," Cliff adds wryly.

Paintings of the Mogollon Rim and photographs of flowers are not the only items he has bought and brought home for a good cause.

A $65 cherry chocolate Valentine cake found its way to his kitchen in support of the high school Rotary Interact Club.

Giving youth of the community the opportunity to be engaged in wholesome activities so they do not spend those precious years in useless pursuits is important to Potts.

He moved to Payson in 1981 when the population was about 5,000.

"Some people claimed, ‘We've already grown too fast.' Everybody likes Payson the way it was when they moved here," Potts said.

Hard as it was to make a living and as many places as he has traveled in the U.S., Potts said there is no place he would rather live.

The biggest changes he has seen have been in shopping and medical services.

"Payson has always been a giving community; we are really fortunate that has never changed," he said. "That's what we are here for, isn't it? To serve our fellow man."

Asked if there something he considers the greatest feat of his life, Potts said, "I am proud of my family and of my business."

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