Wesley Gordon Potter

Wes Potter

On December 15th, 1959, on the third planet from the sun in the city of Saskatoon, Wesley Gordon Potter was born to Marion and Gordon Potter, joining his brothers, Paul and Garner. He was a smart, quiet boy who was gifted with numbers and obsessed with the inner workings of the universe. His first hall of learning was Greystone Heights School, but he also studied the interstellar wisdom delivered by shows like Thunderbirds, Star Trek, and Space 1999. Those shows, and the many science fiction books that he read, were imprinted on his DNA. As quick as you can say "Thunderbirds are go" he was at Evan Hardy Collegiate, graduating in 1977. Since Starfleet Academy wouldn't be open until 2161, he enrolled in electrical engineering at the University of Saskatchewan. He graduated with a mustache and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, with distinction, in 1981. He then began a lifetime of engineering and soon let that mustache evolve into a wise man's beard.

Wes was enthralled with space, but wasn’t immune to earthly charms. He first met Sheila Ratke in 1988 and they married in 1992. They went on the marvellous adventure of adopting from China in 2004, shuttling home Veronica. Since the adventure was so wonderful, they returned in 2010 and rocketed back with Tara. Now the two parents had two children to orbit around. Wes was a loving father, who felt it was his sacred duty to instill in his children all things scientifical, and all things geek, including a love of Lego, books, music, movies and going to shows like Comic-Con. Sometimes orbits change and Wes and Sheila divorced in 2016 but they continued to orbit around their children. Recently, Wes had welcomed Carla Chanin from Planet Girlfriend.

Wes began his working life in 1981 as an electronics engineer at the Saskatoon Cancer Clinic and soon moved on to several employers, including PMC-Sierra and Calian Advanced Technologies. Wes was a problem solver. If he was asked to "make it so" he would attempt to bend the very laws of physics to finish a project. He was involved in designing, coding and testing Telecom System Blocks for six application-specific integrated circuits. And if you don't know what that last sentence means, then Wes is chuckling right now. He was particularly proud of his work on monitoring and control for the National Research Council's Spectrometer—it studied the magnetosphere and was part of the payload on the Akebono satellite launched in 1989. So his work went to space. He was equally proud of developing robotics for the Canadian Space Station Program (it involved the Canadarm2 on the International Space Station orbiting Earth right now).

Besides work and family life, Wes volunteered as the chief engineer of the science book section at the Saskatoon Symphony book sale for over 30 years. He also created and maintained the website for Saskatchewan Families with Children from Asia. Wes was a cosmically proud geek. He had seen every Marvel and DC movie in the universe and had opinions about each one. Also, pity the science fiction movie that didn't get their physics right—he would gently, but firmly, denounce their flaws. Wes had a sly, quiet sense of humour and a calm demeanor and an analytical mind—except when it came to butter tarts and dumplings. Then he became a terminator. He was a trusted friend, had an impeccable taste in geekish t-shirts, and was an obsessive collector of toys from his favourite shows—his pride and joy was his Star Wars pinball machine. 

After travelling around the sun sixty-three times, his light went out on January 28th, due to complications from cancer treatment. Science has taught us we are all made of stardust. Wes was proof of that. He will be greatly missed by his family, his friends and all who knew and loved him.

In lieu of flowers, cards or phasers, Wes would appreciate donations to the Saskatoon Symphony Book and Music Sale. There will not be an official memorial but please raise a butter tart in his honour, read a book in his memory, or build a Lego version of the Apollo 11 and say, "Liftoff! We have a liftoff!"