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City Clerk retires after 35 years of service

By Staff | Apr 10, 2010

Just over a year from now city clerk Bonnie Potter will be about as far away from Cape Coral as someone can be, as she and her husband tour a private animal reserve in Africa.
The trip, which they have been planning for a while, is something Potter will be able to check off her retirement “bucket list”; although, admittedly, Potter’s quest to check items off that list will have more humble beginnings than globe trotting to the far side of the world.
As she prepares to ride off into the sunset of a 35-year career, she said the thing she’s looking forward to the most is being to read the morning paper in peace, and enjoy an unhurried cup of coffee.
“I’m looking forward to getting up when I want to get up, and sitting down to read the paper,” she said. “And just taking my time, drinking a cup of coffee.”
Potter’s last day is April 30, which leaves two more city council meetings that she will preside over as the city’s clerk.
When she finally turns over the reins to her replacement — Rebecca Von Deutekom — the city will lose one of its longest tenured employee.
With Potter will go not only nearly four decades of experience as a city worker, but the rare vantage point she had of watching the city go from literally nothing, to the booming burg of 160,000 plus citizens.
“The city just grew so fast,” she said.
Potter’s parents bought from the Gulf American Company, which places her in the city long before it ever was a city. There were no bridges, no infrastructure. Del Prado was a dirt road, which Potter’s parents got a good look at from the Rosen Brother’s airplane, which they used to woo potential buyers with bird’s eye views of paradise.
She said they used to come down here on vacations from New Jersey, enjoying the Florida lifestyle along the way. So it was only natural that when Potter quit college and had no real idea of what she wanted to do, she headed south, to the home her parents built when she was only a girl.
She said her mother was simply “furious” about the whole thing, and urged her to get a job.
In 1975 Bonnie Potter started typing minutes for city council meetings (despite an aversion to politics), then moved to records clerk, then deputy clerk, then to city clerk in 1994.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Eleven mayors and eight city managers later, Potter now sits on the brink of starting a new chapter in her life.
She said a car accident in November of last year forced her to reexamine what was important, and decided it was time to move on, to start checking off some of those items on that list.
“This city has been my life. It’s been my world,” she said. “But after the car accident, I said to myself, I’ve got more to do than just this.”
Potter said she will miss her staff most of all, and she will also miss the work, though she doubts there’s going to be any city involvement from a citizens standpoint for her in the near future.
While she doesn’t rule out some volunteer work at her granddaugther’s school, she said she promises she won’t be speaking during citizen’s input, starting her statements with the statement: “when I was city clerk.”
Instead, she plans on focusing all of her Cape Coral experiences into a single volume, a book that she claims will chronicle her 35 years as an employee, and the many cycles the city experienced in that same time frame.
The book is slated to be done in the fall of this year, and Potter promised that she will “change all names to protect the innocent”.
As the days wind down to April 30, Potter said she has no regrets about her nearly four decades as a city employee, saying she wouldn’t have changed a thing.
“It’s been a wonderful 35 years, filled with ups and downs, a real roller coaster,” she said. “I’ve had a wonderful career.”