Sue Collyer-Potter, the city of Lakeway’s first planning director and an instrumental cog in the team that developed Lakeway Regional Medical Center, died suddenly Nov. 25.
Her brother, Steve Collyer, said she was in good health on Thanksgiving Day, but was having trouble breathing the next day and went into the hospital. A few days later, she passed away.
Collyer-Potter worked for the Lakeway Company that sold lots and installed infrastructure before Lakeway incorporated as a village and then city. She then served as Lakeway’s planning director from 1987-2007.
Dave Benson, retired Lakeway city manager, worked with Collyer-Potter for 11 years.
“Sue Collyer-Potter, as the city’s director of planning and development for many years, played a major role in the development of the Lakeway you see today. If you like what you see, you can thank and remember Sue for her outstanding efforts,” Benson said.
In 2006, Collyer-Potter and then-Mayor Steve Swan approached Sam and Amy DeMaio about their interest in developing a full-service hospital in Lakeway.
After Collyer-Potter left the city in 2007, she capitalized on her knowledge of the ins and outs of its ordinances and regulations as a consultant to earn respect and jobs on some of the biggest projects in the city, including Lakeway Regional Medical Center.
“She helped us immensely,” Sam DeMaio said. “She was a big part of guiding us through all the different statutes in Lakeway and city ordinances. She was very helpful in getting variances.”
Up until the eight-story hospital opened in April of this year, the tallest building in Lakeway was two stories.
Amy DeMaio’s friendship with Collyer-Potter started eight years ago with a high degree of trepidation as DeMaio brought one of the first of many hospital projects before the planning and development director.
“It was the first meeting I ever had with her, and I was scared to death of her because it was my first commercial transaction, and I had to go in front of her,” DeMaio recalled. “It was when we purchased the land where the hospital now sits. Everyone was, ‘You’re going in front of Sue Potter — good luck’ and laughed. We hit it off, much to I think many people’s surprise. We became very close friends and have been ever since.”
DeMaio said Collyer-Potter was more than a friend; she was a mentor.
“She was a big sister; she took me under her wing,” she said. “She would do anything for anybody. She remembered everybody’s name even if she hadn’t seen them in 20 years, and there was always some story with that person that was always funny or positive.”
One of Collyer-Potter’s first clients as a consultant, Joe Connors, said he worked with her on Tonkawa Place, a small Lakeway subdivision.
“For the last three years, I’ve had the pleasure of sharing an office with Sue and working with her on a daily basis,” Connors wrote in an email. “Sue was very thoughtful. Most days, I’d find a clipping of an interesting article and a coupon on my desk. I’m especially going to miss her this holiday season. She wore a different hat to work every day this time of year.”
Her love for the city was evident in everything she did, current Lakeway City Manager Steve Jones said.
Collyer-Potter volunteered with Operation Green Santa, which is now Lake Travis Green Santa, and served on the board of directors of the Bob Mayberry Foundation, which raises money and awareness for the need for lung cancer research.
Before coming to Lakeway, Collyer-Potter worked with her husband, Jon Potter at his housing company in Houston where they had moved in 1979 from New York.
Collyer-Potter grew up in Glen Falls where she learned from her father and picked up her mother’s giving personality and passion for volunteerism.
In 1970 she graduated from Glens Falls High School and obtained business and police science degrees from Adirondack Community College.
She served in the Adirondack Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, USAFR, from 1970-74 and retired as a chief warrant officer 2. She was also a part-time police officer in Granville, N.Y., for short time in 1974 before becoming the secretary for the late Robert Hutchinson, dean of students at Adirondack Community College.
Collyer-Potter was an original. She was known for wearing hats that would stand out, including Santa caps, and her love of butterflies which Steve Collyer said flitted about her life everywhere she went, including on her business card.
“Sue loved butterflies. They’re everywhere — pictures, prints, sculpture, dishes, garden ornaments, clothes, linens. When people wondered ‘What present do I give Sue?’ they never had to think very hard,” Collyer wrote in an email.
A celebration of Collyer-Potter’s life was set to take place Dec. 5 at Emmaus Catholic Church. Interment of her cremains will be in the family plot in Lake Luzerne, N.Y.
In lieu of flowers, donation may be made to the Mayberry Foundation, 2917 Brittany Point Lane, Austin, TX 78738 and Lake Travis Community Library c/o Ginger Gober, 2300 Lohmans Spur, Suite 100, Lakeway, TX 78734.
After his sister’s passing, Steve Collyer found this handwritten poem by an unknown author on a wall in her home.
ODE TO SUE
Sue is strength and grace
New York savvy and Southern Comfort
Comedy? It surrounds her
A smile hovering right behind her lips
Tell it like it is -
That’s the way she lives her life.
A shine in her eyes
And butterflies in her heart
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