First Responders 08

David Lee Potter

January 2, 1952 ~ September 5, 2020 (age 68)


HAMILTON - On September 5th. 2020, David “Papa” Potter succumbed to esophageal cancer related issues.

David L. Potter was born in Perry, Iowa and was raised nearby in Denison, Iowa.  Dave graduated high school in Newhall, California and worked in concrete and construction in his early adult years.

Dave would fulfill a childhood promise to his dear sister, Barb, when he married a woman with the wooden shoes in September of 1979.  Dave and his bride, Betty, had met in Newhall and spent many a night laughing on the beaches of Southern California.

In 1980, Dave and Betty moved to the Bitterroot Valley where they would spend the rest of lives building and raising a family under the protection of the Bitterroot Mountains.

In the early 1990’s, Dave began his second career as a Deputy for the Ravalli County Sheriff’s Office.  Throughout his 24-year career, Dave became a steadfast detective who was selflessly dedicated to investigating crimes against children, as well as pushing the department into the emerging field of digital forensics.  Dave was a leading investigator in the state for cellphone and computer evidence recovery.

Dave was incredibly passionate in his efforts to protect victims and seek justice on their behalf.  Dave retired from the Ravalli County Sheriff’s Department after becoming ill in 2018. During his career, Dave was awarded the Medal of Valor, the Silver Star of Bravery, the Distinguished Career Award, and retired at the rank of Lieutenant.  Needless to say, Dave Potter left a mark on Ravalli County’s law enforcement that will last for years to come.

Outside of his professional career, Dave enjoyed spending time with his family, woodworking in his basement, and floating his boat in the pursuit of fish.  Dave and the children would often work various construction projects on his weekends, which made great use of his woodworking and masonry skills. 

Dave’s four children were his greatest pride, even though he often referred to them by their chronological birth number rather than by name.  Dave became “Papa” to nine beautiful grandchildren who will remember him by his prominent belly and bright smile.

Dave didn’t lose his fight with cancer; his body just couldn’t support him any longer.  Dave passed with Betty at his side, laying in bed in the home they built with the help of their children in the early 2000’s.  Dave’s body went down his hand-placed brick steps one final time and was escorted by the Ravalli County Sheriff’s Office to Daly-Leach Memorial Chapel shortly after his passing.

Dave is survived by his loving wife of 41 years, their four children: Ryan, Joey, Rebekah, and Jesse; and nine grandchildren.

Dave was preceded in death by his Grandparents, Frank and Dorothy Potter; his mother, Delores Hollander; his sister, Barb Andersen and sister, Cheryl Hansen.  

Dave’s hard working and joyous demeanor will be missed by all who had the pleasure of working with him.  The world will long miss Dave’s infectious laughter and his jokes that were renown for brightening dark times.  Condolences may be left for the family at

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