Northeast Kansas finds itself a little quieter with the passing of Charlene Valentine Potter, 88, of Baldwin City, KS. She died Tuesday, September 21, 2021 at the Morningstar Care Homes, Baldwin City, KS.
She could be heard playing violin (she was a member of the Kansas City Symphony); blasting Miles Davis records (too loud, sometimes late into the night); stomping the ground every time someone scored in the game (any game, though her favorite team was Rafa Nadal); or singing birds’ calls back to them in the trees above her patio (or shouting all manner of vitriol at the squirrels gorging themselves in the birds’ feeders). Charlene made herself heard and, often, she did so by bringing more music into the world.
She was born April 10, 1933 in Chicago, IL the daughter of Charles Callahan and Ruth Jane (Laury) Callahan. She eventually moved with her family to Kansas and graduated from Independence High School, Independence, KS, with the class of 1951. She then graduated from Baker University with a B.A. in Philosophy and Music. Later, she attained her Masters of Education Degree from the University of Kansas.
Charlene was a lover of all life and a champion of the natural world. When a mouse needed saving from a trap, or a snake needed to be carried out of the school, she scooped them up and delivered them to safety. She raised monarchs, mealworms, guinea pigs, turtle doves and other animals. She nurtured seeds into herbs, vegetables, and flowers. Most beloved of all, she was always accompanied by her very well-fed and poorly behaved dogs.
Everything Charlene touched grew and flourished—from her gardens, which were renowned for their vibrancy (bordering on the untameable); to her family, which she raised first largely as a single mother (with the help of her two sisters) and then as a grandmother and great grandmother; to the minds of the hundreds of students who were fortunate enough to pass through her classroom.
Charlene was the first Title One reading teacher for the Baldwin City School District. After leaving Baldwin City and moving to Connecticut for a year, she returned to teaching, and from 1975 to 2003 was an elementary teacher for the U.S.D. 348 at Marion Springs Elementary School. She loved educating children and many of her grandchildren were inspired by her to also become educators.
Charlene was inducted into the Kansas Teachers Hall of Fame in 2007. She was a member of the Hestia Study Club, Chapter CK of P.E.O., and the Delta-Delta-Delta sorority at Baker University. She was also a registered member of the Osage Nation.
She was preceded in death by her parents, two sisters, Alice Anne Russell, Mary Jane Chubb, and a nephew, Charles Leonard Chubb.
Charlene is survived by three daughters, Christine Potter and her husband, Colby Wang, Missoula, MT, Julie Craig and her husband, Mike, Baldwin City, KS, Charlene Hannon and her husband, Phil, Baldwin City, KS; eleven grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.
To celebrate Charlene’s life, a memorial service will be held 10:00 a.m., Saturday October 9, 2021 at the Marion Springs Event Center, Baldwin City, KS. A visitation will be held prior to the service at 9:00 a.m. Memorial contributions may be made to the Baldwin Education Foundation sent c/o Lamb-Roberts-Price Funeral Home, P.O. Box 64, Baldwin City, KS 66006. Condolences may be sent to the family through www.lamb-roberts.com.
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