Dr. Denis Kynaston Potter
21 July 1942 – 3 April 2016
Denis represented the pinnacle of the human race. He was the most honourable of men and we will miss his intellect, honesty, loyalty, integrity, warmth, humour, diplomacy, generosity and unceasing cheerfulness.
His early life was influenced by his father’s interest in things mechanical. Bill, real name Philip, had, before Denis had been born, been rallying his MG and Bob-Sleigh racing in Switzerland. During the war he was part of the British Expeditionary Force that had had to retreat from Dunkirk. Denis entered this world which moved on, after the end of the war, to see his father racing a power boat named ‘Brat’ on Lake Windermere. Added to this Denis’ uncle, Douglas, worked for the British Aircraft Corporation developing the Canberra and Lightning aircraft and it is all too apparent why this was to be the world for Denis.
In 1959 he was on his way to university life at St, Catherine’s Cambridge when, at Uncle Douglas’ suggestion he applied to BAC. He was taken on and sponsored by a scholarship from BAC obtained his Master’s Degree. With a thesis on Short Take off and Landings Denis went on to receive his Doctor of Science. His early work at BAC was surrounded in secrecy but is thought to include work on the TSR2 and Tornado aircraft. He worked on flutter and dynamics, developing a protocol that has been known as the ‘Potter Method’. This is still in use today.
Denis was seconded by the Department for Trade and Industry. Thereafter he took early retirement and formed his own consultancy business. Here he undertook work for the European Commission and the British Standards Institute. This was, still, highly confidential work and his brother could only conclude that Denis’ investigative compilations were similar to those that were seen in the ‘Night Manager’.
Denis married Pam and they had two boys, Julian and Marcus. The marriage ended in divorce and Denis married Helena with whom he had a third son, Philip. Denis was a wonderful father to all three sons and a wonderful grandfather to the children of Julian and Marcus.
Denis obtained a Private Pilot’s Licence and would take his brother up over the Lake District. On one such occasion they were bound for Blackpool but discovered, when they arrived there, that the wind was somewhat blustery. Denis was scheduled to land ahead of a tourist carrying Dragon Rapide biplane. Denis put his aircraft down but before the tailwheel was on the runway he experienced a strong side wind that rotated the aircraft turning it full circle. The following Rapide had to do another emergency lap. Denis’ plane suffered no damage but did signal the end of his flying career.
His motoring experience had started with a 1930’s Austin Ruby. Early on he was driving a Bentley that he drove into a flood but it was never seen again.
Denis went into full retirement and moved to Sutton. The multi-facetted nature of his life did not stop, however, and he developed his interest in model railways, researching Archaeological aspects of Hittites and Egyptians and genealogy.
Denis had a sister, Jan, seven years his junior. She had been born with a mental handicap which required special needs. Denis was frontrunner in assisting and transporting his mother to maintain contact with his sister. His mother died in 2008 and sister in 2013.
His contributions to the Bentley Drivers Club were varied and would encompass arranging visits to Combat Stress to driving to Wroxton to stiff envelopes. One thing you could be sure of is that whatever it was it would be done well. He had joined the South East Region’s committee and was adding his considerable knowledge and experience to proceedings. He surprised me when he produced a detailed recent history of the current difficulties at Wroxton. He did this with no reference to me and was accurate with only minor errors. It is no secret that he had agreed to be our next chairman subject to confirmation of our committee. It just adds to the sadness that this cannot now come to pass. We all know, as do many throughout the BDC, that we have lost a genuine good man and a fine friend. There are not many people like him and this select band has been diminished by one.