Dr. Charles Jackson Potter was an executive of Rochester and Pittsburgh Coal
Company for half a century, serving as vice president of operations in 1938, president in
1948 and chairman of the board from 1970 until his retirement in 1988.
He was raised in Missouri, and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the
University of Missouri School of Mines, and a doctorate in chemical engineering at West
Virginia University. Missouri honored Potter with an honorary doctor of engineering
degree, and in Indiana, he was awarded an honorary doctorate at IUP.
During World War II, Potter served as deputy director for coal mines in the U.S.
Department of the Interior and as deputy solid fuels administrator.
After the war, he was sent to help rehabilitate the mining industry in devastated
Europe. Great Britain made him an honorary commander in the Most Excellent Order of
the British Empire in recognition of his service to that nation, and President Harry
Truman awarded Potter the Medal of Merit for his service to the U.S.
He is recognized in the industry for pioneering the “coal by wire” concept, which
opened the door to the growth of the coal-fired electric generating industry in the Indiana
County area. The advance helped revive coal mining in Indiana County.
In service to the Indiana community, Potter served 25 years on the Indiana County
Planning Commission and was named its first chairman in 1959. He was a founder of the
Indiana County Development Corporation and the chairman for from 1961 to 1977.
Potter led the 1975 fundraising campaign for Indiana Hospital; served on the governing
boards of IUP, the United Way and Savings and Trust Bank; and was instrumental in the
creation of Yellow Creek State Park.
Potter’s service extended to serving on the board of governors of the State System
of Higher Education and the Governor’s Energy Council.
He won professional honors including the Erskine Ramsey Medal from the
American Institute of Engineers, the Howard Evenson Award from the Society of Mining
Engineers, and membership in the Academy of Chemical Engineers at WVU.
Charles Potter, a director emeritus of the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce,
died in 1990 in Indiana.