Naples doctor, a gay community advocate, dies of COVID-19

A community is mourning a health care worker who dedicated his life to helping others.

Dr. Clinton Potter died of COVID-19 recently after he had already battled cancer and become cancer-free. He spent a lifetime serving his community, helping people living with HIV/AIDS and being a prominent figure in Naples Pride events.

The pain of his death is felt by many, including the LGBTQ community. In the 1980s, Potter fought the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco. When he moved to Naples, he helped build Naples Pride.

Potter made a difference as a doctor, as a proud member of the gay community and as a friend.

“I kind of figured we’d get old together,” said Laurie Martell, the practice manager for Advanced Individualized Medicine.

With Potter, an old doctor, and Martell, an old ICU nurse, Martell figured she and Potter would spend their final years on a beach somewhere.

The pandemic and COVID-19 were not part of the plan.

“I never expected that my friend would be dead,” Martell said. “He survived so many things. I mean, we thought he was a cat with 10 lives, and this took him down in seven days, and it’s just not good.”

Potter beat cancer twice, and he was vaccinated for COVID-19 — two shots.

“You don’t expect your doctors to go down,” Martell said. “This stuff is taking them down just for doing their job. They’re just doing their job.”

Potter’s death leaves a void within the gay community.

“Dr. Potter was a great advocate for Naples Pride,” said Corey Huffman, a Naples Pride board member.

Huffman told us he joined Naples Pride in large part because of Potter’s passion.

“Dr. Potter is now the closest person that I have had a relationship with that has contracted the virus and has passed away from it,” Huffman said. “So it kind of struck home for me.”

Potter’s staff told us they do everything they can to keep the doors open and carry on a stigma-free health space because that’s what Dr. Clinton Potter would have wanted.

“Just get vaccinated. I mean, he’s not the only doctor in the hospital,” Huffman said. “He’s not the only doctor in this county that’s intubated right now. He’s not the only professional that has gone down, and they’re going to continue to lose us, and then, what’s gonna happen?”

Reporter:Gail Levy
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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