Cover photo for Gayle Potter's Obituary
Gayle Potter Profile Photo
1935 Gayle 2016

Gayle Potter

December 31, 1935 — October 14, 2016

“My Story”

I was born on December 31, 1935 in Kansas City, Missouri in an Orphans Home. Adopted by Fred and Lulu Potter (my new parents).  They lived in Bingham, Nebraska, where I grew up on their ranch.  They passed away in 1984 and 1985.I Graduated from Bingham Public Schools in 1952, as valedictorian. Attended Nebraska State College, graduating in 1957 with majors in chemistry, and in biology, and a minor in physics.

I Married Jo Diane Johnson in 1954 in Chadron Nebraska.We have one son, Stanley born in Chadron, Nebraska in 1957 and two daughters, Vickie born in 1958 and Sandra born in 1961, both in Casper, Wyoming.

We lived in Casper one year, then moved to Gillette, Wyoming, working as an analytical chemist with Chemical and Geological Laboratories, analyzing oil and gas wells. I continued analyzing oil and gas wells until 1971. We purchased a ranch in North East Wyoming, and named it the Rocking G ranch.  Clark and Katie Reynolds and their family moved to, the Rocking G, and Clark was our foreman. We ran about 1600 head of cattle, and during that time we kept 200 head of cows for Glen Ford, Richard Widmark, Alford Hitchcock, and Jack Benny.  Mr. Benny offered me a full time job, managing his ranching interests.  Bad health forced us to sell the ranch, cattle, machinery, and our Cessna 182 Skylane.  Eight months later, doctors at St. Luke’s hospital in Denver diagnosed my problem, my health returned.  Our church had outgrown its building, and I spent the next ten months working on a new building. The congregation made me their “Superindent” on the Building project. After the completion and dedication of the new church building, Jack Sherard and I started Cardinal Construction, which we operated several years.

Our family moved to Abilene, Texas in August, 1975.  Stan had graduated from Campbell County high school in 1975, and entered Abilene Christian College in that fall, and our girls went to high school.  Jo and I took Bible classes at Abilene Christian.  I majored in Bible.  Vickie and Sandy both graduated from Abilene High.  Vickie married Gary Ritter in 1978, and Stan married Brenda Moreland in 1978.  Sandy and Rickey Smith were married in 1981.  Justin Ritter was born in 1981, Jamie Potter was born in 1986, Sydney Potter was born in 1990, Garrett Smith was born in 1987, and Gabrielle Smith was born in 1995.  Justin married Dani, Garrett married Kimberly, Jamie married Jeff Heslip, and they just had my first great-grandson, Ethan Ryan, and Sydney married Brandon Koecker.

Stan and I started Cardinal Excavating in Abilene in 1975.  We were joined by Garyafter Vickie and Gary were married.  We worked on the building of the Mall of Abilene for three years, and worked at Dyess Air Force Base for three years on theB1B aircraft facility.  I left Cardinal Excavating in 1989 and started Cardinal Laboratories.  Our first laboratory was in Abilene, and we added labs in Lubbock, Hobbs, and Farmington, New Mexico.  We did analytical environmental chemistry, analyzing hazardous and toxic samples.  Most of our analytical work was for oil companies, and oilfield service companies.  We sold this business in 2006.

During my studies at Abilene Christian I became interested in Biblical Archaeology.  Jo and I went to Europe in 1984 with George and Joan Knight. Dr. Knight was Professor on New Testament and Greek at Hardin Simmons University. We traveled to Greece, Italy, Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands.  He asked me to go to Israel with him in 1985, and work on the excavation of Capernaum.  In 1990 Bill Humble, Professor of New Testament at Abilene Christian University asked me to go back to Israel and work on the Excavation of Caesarea Philippi (Banias) in the Golan Heights.  Ian Fair, Professor of Bible at Abilene Christian, Dean of the College of Biblical Studies, wanted Abilene Christian to be involved in this excavation and asked that I go and represent the University.  Dr.  Fair made me an adjunct professor in the College of Biblical Studies.  This excavation was the Banias Excavation Consortium, and the director was Dr. Vassilios Tzaferis from the Israel Antiquities Authorities.  He was also the director at Capernaum.  He added me to his staff at Banias.  I worked there in 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994.

Our family moved to the farm in the Caps community in 1978, and we still live there.  Vickie and Gary have lived here since we purchased the farm.  Vickie worksfor Elmwood Funeral Home, and Gary works at Milsoft.  Sandy and Rickey live close to Abilene Christian, and they both work there.  Stan works with hazardous environmental problems, and lives here.

Jo and I have been members of Baker Heights church of Christ since 1978.  I served 10 years as a deacon, and 19 years as an elder.  In 2000, Philip Madeley and I visited several mission projects in India, and in Australia.  While in India we visited the Taj Mahal in Agra.  Jo and I support several mission projects, and preachers in India.  Philip and I circled the earth, leaving from Dallas going East, and returning to Dallas going East.  Before moving to Abilene, we were members of the church of Christ in Gillette, Wyoming and I served as an elder there.

After selling Cardinal Laboratories, and surviving 12 hours of heart surgery,I started helping Piersall Funeral Directors at the funeral home.  On September 10, 2010, we purchased Fry Bartlett Funeral Home in Tuscola. Alamo College in San Antonio has a mortuary college.  This is the mortuary college I attended to get my funeral directors license.  Matt and Rachel Smith purchased the funeral home September 10, 2014.  I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in May 2014, and continued “chemo therapy” until April 2016.  PET scans in April and July did not find cancer cells.  I helped Fry Smith Funeral Home occasionally, and also Elmwood Funeral Home as a funeral director.

Visitation for family and friends will be held 5:00 till 8:00 PM, Tuesday, October 18, 2016 at Elmwood Funeral Home, 5750 Hwy 277 South. Funeral Service will be 10:00 AM, Wednesday, October 19, 2016 at the Ball Ranch, 525 US-83, Abilene, TX 79602. Interment will follow the service in Elmwood Memorial Park.

The family would like to ask that in lieu of flowers you would please consider giving a memorial donation in Gayle’s honor to Meals on Wheels, 717 N 10th St, Abilene, TX 79601, (325) 672-5050 or Food Bank of Abilene, 5505 N 1st St, Abilene, TX 79603, (325)695-6311.

All services are under the direction of both, Fry Smith Funeral Home in Tuscola and Elmwood Funeral Home in Abilene.

Online condolences and memories may be shared with the family through the obituary link at or

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