IDAHO FALLS — After decades of a lasting love, an Idaho couple recently passed away within hours of each other.
Neldon and Helen Potter had been married for 73 years. On Dec. 7 and Dec. 8 they died of natural causes. Neldon was 91, and Helen was 90.
“Mom passed away 8:30 in the evening, and on the 8th, Dad passed away at 11:45 in the morning,” daughter Nancy Potter said.
At the time of their passing, the couple was living with their two daughters who took care of them, Nancy Potter, 72, and Kathy Potter, 70.
“Mom said that she would never be able to retire, that death would be her retirement, so she finally retired,” Kathy said.
The sisters said their parents lived a full and happy life. Neldon and Helen grew up in the St. Anthony area and met at a dance.
“They met at a Gold and Green Ball at a church activity. They were chosen to dance together,” Kathy said.
Kathy didn’t say why they were chosen to dance together, but the two seemed to fall in love instantly.
“Mom said she found Dad to be very handsome and had kissable lips,” Kathy said. “He said he fell in love with her because she looked nice.”
The couple married when Helen was 17, and Neldon 18.
“She chased him down his father’s pea patch and tripped him and asked him to marry her, so they got married on July 4, 1943,” Kathy said.
“That was the story we always heard. Mom and Dad both collaborated that so we were never really sure,” Nancy said.
After getting married, Neldon joined the Navy and served in World War II. He received numerous honors, including the Asiatic Pacific Area Campaign Medal, the American Area Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.
“He said he chose the Navy because he preferred to ride than to walk,” Kathy said.
Neldon and Helen were farmers for many years, and started out life in Wilford.
“Mom and Dad worked really, really hard ,and they worked side by side, feeding chickens and pigs and cows,” Kathy said.
They moved to Goshen after Neldon started work for the Idaho National Laboratory. The couple had four children, three girls and a boy.
“For fun they would take us camping and picnicking and swimming,” Kathy said.
“When we were little kids he would let us stand on his feet, (and) he would dance us around,” Kathy said.
After Neldon retired from INL, the couple would live in Arizona for the winters. This year the couple moved in with their two daughters, where they could receive better care.
Nancy and Kathy said they loved having their parents close, and that they miss speaking with them.
“We’ll really miss them being in their chairs and being able to talk with them, and do things with them,” Nancy said.
Kathy said the two always had great insights and advice.
“I think we’ll miss their wisdom because they were very wise. They knew things that we should or shouldn’t do, sometimes we didn’t listen to them, we did what we wanted anyway, and I regretted it,” Kathy said.
Nancy and Kathy said their parents had tender feelings toward each other. Even though their marriage seemed stormy at times they were always determined to make it work.
“We were just talking about why they stayed together for 73 years, and Mom and Dad both said that people said their marriage would never work when they got married, so they stayed together 73 years to prove them wrong,” Kathy said.