The caption beneath his yearbook picture reads: “When there is mischief in the air, he’s the one who put it there.” Russ Potts will be remembered for much more than the mischief he was alleged to have created as a student at Handley.
Russ received his degree in Journalism at the University of Maryland with a minor in Government and Politics. He started his career as a sports journalist for the Loudoun Times Mirror and the Winchester Evening Star.
He was the Executive Director of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival in 1969-70. Along with his friend Dick Kern, he was a co-founder of the festival’s Sports Breakfast.
Russ returned to the University of Maryland as the Director of Sports Promotions becoming the first person in history of college athletics to hold the position. He left Maryland to become the Athletic Director at Southern Methodist University and later became the Vice President of the Chicago White Sox. Russ was inducted into 6 Halls of Fame.
He returned to Winchester and founded Russ Potts Productions, Inc. One of the first broadcasts produced by the company was “The Game of the Century” with Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown vs. Ralph Sampson’s University of Virginia in 1982.
Russ was elected as a Republican to the Virginia State Senate four times. He was proud to serve as Chair of the Senate Health and Education Committee as it allowed him to provide support to Virginia public schools. In the Senate, he would always talk about his love of Handley and the teachers who helped him along the way. He was named Senator of the Year by 13 different state associations.
Russ ran for Governor of Virginia as an Independent in 2005. He retired from the Senate in 2007.
Following his retirement from the Senate of Virginia, Russ was recruited to lead the Handley High School Capital Campaign to raise funds for the renovation. Once the renovation was completed, he served as the Executive Director of the Winchester Education Foundation.
In total, Russ was involved in raising approximately $20,000,000 to support the school renovation, facility upgrades, and educational programs. Of his many accomplishments, the work he did on behalf of Handley High School and the school children of Winchester brought him the most satisfaction. He wanted the best for all students and staff with the absolute best facilities in the country. He was especially proud of the over $4,000,000 he helped to raise for the Emil and Grace Shihadeh Innovation Center just prior to his passing in December 2021.