BELTON — Roy Cochran Potts spent his life in and around water.
Potts — whose family started Cochran, Blair and Potts, the oldest running department store in Texas — joined the United States Navy during World War II.
After placing first in a 100-meter swimming contest for the 1998 Scott & White Texas Senior Games, Potts sighed and told the Telegram, “I’m tired.” That was just one of many gold medals he earned for swimming in the Senior Olympics.
The Belton Independent School District in 2007 named the Roy and Jean Potts Swim Center at the Belton High School after him and his wife.
Potts, 91, died on Sunday.
Belton Independent School District Superintendent Susan Kincannon said Potts, a 1944 Belton High School graduate, was an avid swimmer who donated funding to help construct the swim center.
“Mr. Potts’ legacy of generosity and kindness will live on for generations through the hundreds of children who swim at the Roy and Jean Potts Swim Center, including Mr. Potts’ great-granddaughter Emily Potts, who is currently a member of Belton ISD’s swim club, the Tigersharks,” Kincannon said.
Randy Pittenger, the Belton Area Chamber of Commerce president and former Belton school board member, said Potts was a treasure to the city.
“He had given the seed money to resurrect the swim team at the high school,” Pittenger said.
It was an easy decision for the school board to name the swim center after Potts, Pittenger said. He said it was a connection to the past and a reminder of Potts’ legacy to Belton. Potts would often present medals during swim meets, he added.
“He was so proud that Belton had a successful swim program,” Pittenger said.
After completing his military service, Potts graduated from Texas A&M University in 1948.
Potts worked at his family’s business for more than 50 years — working as a salesman, buyer, owner and president until he retired in 1998. The Potts family has owned Cochran, Blair and Potts since 1917.
Looking back at his career, Potts told the Telegram in 2008 that he would remember the employees the most.
“We had some good employees over the years,” he said. “We had a lot of employees that worked for us over 50 years.”
Mayor Marion Grayson said Potts was an active and influential member of the community.
“But what stands out to me the most was his remarkable gift to meet new people with enthusiasm and interest, and the ability to remember them the next time they met again,” she said. “He truly was ‘Mr. Belton.’”
Potts was a member of the Belton Lions Club, Bell County Sportsman’s Club and served on the Belton Housing Authority’s board of directors. He was a director of First National Bank of Belton and the Peoples National Bank of Belton. Potts was involved in the Texas Retailers Association.
City Manager Sam Listi said Potts represented a family of distinction. Listi said Potts was a partner on many city projects, including the widening of Sparta Road and the roundabout.
“The BISD Swim Center that bears the family’s name met a unique need in the city when established,” Listi said. “Mr. Pott’s community spirit will be missed.”
Potts was married to Dorotha Jean Gray Potts, who died in 2016. The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor named Potts Plaza after the couple.
Survivors include sons, Rob Potts and John Potts, both of Belton; and daughter Patricia Jean Wilson of Salado.
A visitation for family and friends is set 5-7 p.m. on Thursday at the Dossman Funeral Home Chapel, 2525 N. Main St.
Potts’ funeral service will be at 4 p.m. Friday at the First Baptist Church Belton, 506 N. Main St. He will be buried at the North Belton Cemetery.