92-Year-Old World War II Vet Avoids Eviction By Daughter

John Potter's offer to buy the home he built was accepted by his daughter.

September 20, 2013, 9:28 AM
PHOTO: Jaclyn Fraley, pictured with her grandfather, John J. Potter, is hoping to stop her mother from evicting him from the home he built.
John J. Potter, pictured with his granddaughter Jaclyn Fraley, was trying to stop his daughter from evicting him from the home he built 56 years ago.
Courtesy Jaclyn Fraley

Sept. 20, 2013 — -- A 92-year-old's offer to buy back his house has been accepted by his daughter, preventing his eviction from his home of 56 years.

After raising money from Internet donors, John Potter of Zaleski, Ohio, had attempted to buy back his home before an eviction hearing at the Vinton County Courthouse. Jury selection was scheduled for Oct. 3, after the eviction hearing was postponed during the summer.

He received an eviction notice from his daughter, Janice Cottrill, and son-in-law earlier this year, saying they had terminated his "existing lease."

Potter and his granddaughter, Jaclyn Fraley, 35, raised nearly $140,000 on the website GoFundMe.com, but offers to buy back the home were previously rejected by his daughter.

The court has been notified that paperwork was filed to dismiss the eviction, Fraley said.

"I want to express my appreciation for all those people who helped me," Potter said. "It wasn't one person, it wasn't a hundred but over five thousand people and I certainly appreciate it more than they will ever know."

After Potter's attorney called Fraley to notify her of the offer's acceptance on Wednesday, she said, "I think I shrieked for 10 seconds and started bawling."

Potter's next step is to wait until the deed is prepared, paperwork completed and signed by her mother and stepfather, said Fraley, who said she would then write a check to them.

Fraley declined to reveal the price that was accepted, but she said it was "five figures" and more than her grandfather's last rejected offer of about $60,000. But the amount was less than what was raised on GoFundMe.com.

Fraley the remaining money from GoFundMe.com will be used for Potter's care and things he might need for the house.

When Fraley told Potter about Wednesday's purchase agreement, he told his granddaughter it was "too good to be true."

Potter had a market appraisal conducted on the home which showed that its value was $47,000 plus a tract of land worth $2,830, together which was much lower than the value he and his granddaughter had expected.

They made an offer to Cottrill through their attorney for the market value of the home and received a counter-offer that was about $85,000 plus about $4,000 and $11,500 for the eviction process and attorney fees.

Potter had previously said he was reluctant to offer more than what the market appraisal for the home indicated.

"I had this house for over 50 years before this took place," Potter said. "It just knocked me for a loop and I have worried all day every day ever since and now I am so happy I don't have to worry about it anymore."

The story goes back to 2004, when Potter and his wife, who has since died, gave the general power of attorney to his daughter for future matters if they declined in health, including to take care of her autistic adult brother, now 64. His daughter Janice Cottrill eventually used that power to allegedly convey the deed to the one-story home to herself, Fraley said. In 2010, Potter said he learned of the deed transfer and switched power of attorney to his granddaughter, Fraley. But it was too late legally to reverse the deed transfer.

While preparing for an eviction, Potter and his attorney sent a letter to his daughter's attorney, notifying them one last time that they were prepared to invest in another home for him.

When asked what may have finally motivated the offer's acceptance, Fraley said the local community may have put pressure on the situation as October's eviction hearing approached.

"It's his home and he can look at it and know that it's his," Fraley said. "It's crowdfunding at its finest."

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