RIP Grandpa Jack
World War II veteran John “Grandpa Jack” Potter passed away in hospice care on January 6, after suffering a fall shortly after Christmas that left him hospitalized and unresponsive. If his name sounds familiar, it’s because his story first burst into the news back in April when the Columbus, Ohio NBC News affiliate published an article about Potter being evicted from the Ohio home he built and has lived in for more than fifty years. The twist to this story? He was being evicted by his own daughter.
WTF? What kind of woman evicts her own father, from his own house? How does that even happen?
Having many elderly relatives myself, I realized that this situation may not be as black-and-white as it first appears. There are frequently issues of senility or dementia at play in situations like this, and the elderly are often very resistant to being moved out of their homes and into assisted-living facilities, even in cases when it genuinely is in their best interests. I must also admit to a bit of skepticism when I first read the report, and was not 100% convinced that this was legit and not some kind of sophisticated scam perpetrated by the supposed “family” to generate sympathy and a generous supply of donations.
So I decided to do some digging before I started casting aspersions at Potter’s daughter, Janis Cottrill, and her husband, Dean Cottrill. When I looked into the situation, I found that the situation wasn’t as bad as I first thought.
It was far worse.
According to a journalistic masterpiece published right here on The Rhino Den, Potter’s daughter, Janis Cottrill, utilized a power of attorney to seize control of Potter’s home, a home he himself helped build when he returned from World War II. The move was made in response to an intra-family squabble involving visitation rights for Potter’s handicapped adult son, who resides with the Cottrills. The Cottrills admitted to seizing the house and initiating eviction procedures in order to pressure Potter into dropping lawsuits involving visitation rights to see his son.
Not content to stand on the sidelines as this travesty unfolded, the Cottrill’s daughter (and Potter’s granddaughter) Jaclyn Fraley, took up the cause in support of her grandfather. In addition to going to the press, Fraley started a fundraiser to generate enough money to buy the house that her parents took away from her grandfather, and return it to its rightful owner.
The problem is, the Cottrills refused to sell.
I have no idea how much a 54 year old home in rural Ohio goes for these days, but I’ve got to imagine that the $130,000 or so that Potter’s granddaughter raised is well over fair market value. So why not sell the house back to Grandpa Jack, you know, the guy who legitimately owned it in the first place? It’s hard to say without additional information, but it sure looks a lot like spite.
And now we have news that Grandpa Jack has died; another member of our “greatest generation” has passed. So I guess his daughter and her husband get to keep his house. I hope it was worth it.
I also hope that the friends and neighbors of Dean Cottrill and Janis Cottrill realize what kind of people they’re dealing with.
As far as I can tell, this story is 100% true, Grandpa Jack and his granddaughter are real people, and the fundraiser is completely legit. So as an epilogue to this tragic and disgusting tale, I’d like to invite all of us to offer one final salute to World War II veteran John Potter.
Rest in peace, brother.