James Edward Potorti

Family Tribute:Jim - my husband - was reserved and quiet and known by all as a gentle spirit. That he was, and he was also smart, sexy, earthy, silly, sensitive, empathetic, handsome, giving, deep and possessed of a wonderful dry wit. He sang, danced, told stories and did pretty good imitations. He was endlessly curious and took such pleasure in learning and understanding. He could build anything, make anything grow, cook and shop like a pro. Oh, he could get angry and frustrated like anyone else but he had an amazingly deep capacity for joy. He enjoyed traveling but enjoyed our home even more. He understood contentment and he had the gift of being able to appreciate both the big picture and the small things. He loved the ocean, loved nature, loved his family. Jim knew work was work and life was life. He made me feel secure, beautiful, strong. I had the privilege of loving and being loved by this man and for that I am eternally grateful.

Nikki Stern, widow of Jim Potorti

James E. Potorti: ’Je T’Aime, Jim’

Paris, 1988. Nikki Stern is napping and the new love in her life, James E. Potorti, a sweet soul with penetrating eyes, is painting. For days they have been exploring Paris, and discovering each other in its art galleries, cafes and, inevitably, the Eiffel Tower. Now, as she sleeps, he arranges fresh oranges and grapes in a bowl, and he paints his simple still life with a purpose made clear by the inscription on his canvas, 'Paris à Nikki -- Je t’aime, Jim, 1988.'

'That,' Ms. Stern recalled with a warm laugh, 'is when I knew I had him.'

Cayuga Lake, N.Y., 2001. It is Labor Day weekend, and Mr. Potorti, 52, is kayaking side-by-side with Ms. Stern, his wife of 10 years. They bought kayaks this spring, took lessons together, and now, on a clear, cool day, they are exploring Cayuga Lake, and discovering each other. Near the middle of the lake they drift for a moment, basking in the intimacy of being so alone, and so together. Ms. Stern reaches for her husband’s hand. He leans close to her. They kiss.

'The best day of my life,' Ms. Stern said.

These words come through tears. Mr. Potorti, a vice president at Marsh & McLennan who worked on the 96th floor of 1 World Trade Center, has left behind a wife who loved the way they ignored birthdays, Christmas and Valentine’s Day because they much preferred surprising each other with gifts throughout the year. What does she miss most? 'I definitely miss his physical presence,' she said, again with that warm laugh. 'We were close that way.'

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I didn't know Jim or his family but I am determined to visit everyone memorialized on this site, to learn just a little about each of the wonderful people lost on 9/11/01. To Jim's wife Nikki, his family and friends, please accept my sincere condolences for your terrible loss. America will never forget.
Leslie Honcharik, Friend
Sep 29 2022 3:05AM
One of the nicest guys one might meet. - fraternity brother from Oswego. Deadpan humor. Extremely intelligent. Very caring. Never met you, Nikki, but my sympathies go out to you and your family.I'll never forget the guy we called Big Daddy.
Joe Shaw, Friend
Sep 11 2014 2:55PM
Remembering you today and always, Jim. Rest in peace!
Shannon Bowman, Colleague
Sep 11 2011 10:33PM
Jim and I had a 'thing' when we worked at Marsh together....we both thought it was strange that people would say 'Hi, how are you?' when they would never listen to the answer. So he and I would always say to each other when we met :' Hi, it's nice to see you.' I can still see the funny smile on Jim's face whenever someone says 'Hi, how are you' but doesn't wait for the answer. Nikki, I've been wanting to tell you that one night in Toronto with a team of folks from Marsh, Jim did just about the craziest thing that I've ever seen anyone do. The next morning at the meeting, I was the facilitator, and to kick off the meeting I asked: 'Should anyone here have been arrested for what they did last night'? To the astonishment of many in the room who knew him, Jim very proudly raised his hand and waved it about. Then I asked: 'Did anybody do something last night that, if they had died doing it, would have made the front page of newspapers around the world?' Again, Jim waved his hand proudly and flamboyantly. Jaws were dropping around the room. It sure set the tone for that meeting! He was a very nice person. I liked him alot.
Phil Vincent, Colleague
Dec 7 2010 9:59PM
I worked with Jim in the Surety Department in NY. I guess he was known as our Technology Coordinator but that title did not matter to any of us because he was more than that. He was always so helpful and always made himself available. He made my job a lot easier and I greatly appreciated working with him. I think about the many lives that were lost on September 11th and I will always remember Jim and how great it was to work with him. God bless him and his widow, Nikki.
Robyn Walsh, Colleague
Sep 12 2009 11:32PM
Jim was my friend and room-mate during my sophomore year at Oswego State (1972). I will always remember Jim for many of the same reasons you described on your tribute to Jim. We had a great times during that year goofing around and helping each other get through some of our courses. I stayed friends with Jim throughout my college years but unfortunately lost touch when we graduated. I have thought about writing you after the great tragedy but for one reason or another failed to do that. Each year on this day my thoughts of Jim and his family are on my mind and I think about how painful this day must be for you. I have worked for the USGS for the last 30 years and presently live in California. Please e-mail me and update on some of Jim's life after the Oswego days. My love and thoughts are with you and the family. Hank
Hank Chezar, Friend
Sep 11 2008 4:03PM
Sept. 11 is my birthday. In the past, I used to focus on my petty fear of aging. After Jim's death, this day is now a reminder to be grateful for the gift of life and to focus on bringing love wherever we can. Nikki's devotion to Jim, and the magical connection they had is an inspiration, despite the pain of his tragic death. Jim's life was packed with joy and creativity, and he taught people like myself, who didn't ever get a chance to meet him, how to celebrate and cherish the present.
Maura SWANSON, Friend
Sep 12 2007 3:22AM
I am Jim's cousin Pete. Named after his dad who was my mother, Elvira's favorite brother. I remeber Jim as being mature even as a 16 year old... I am 52 now, Jim's age when he passed. I always enjoyed Jimmy, Billy and David when I was little. I have not seen them since the '60's. I downloade a picture from a website that I remember having a copy of in our photo album as a kid. God bless you Uncle Pete and Aunt Olga. I would not have served in the Marines if it had not been for your bravery on Iwo Jima. I am amazed at how well you and Olga looked in the photos I saw on another web page. David, I remeber as being the little inventor making his own fireworks. Billy I remeber as being funny but kind of shy. Jimmy, as I said was kind even to a little squirt like me... I was stunned and saddened to here about his passing. I hope Nikki is doing well. God Bless you all... Pete
A.Peter (Potorti) Walter, Family
Jul 6 2005 1:31AM
I met Jim on only a couple of occasions. I probably know him more for his positive and sometimes goofy effect on Nikki. I've thought about Jim alot since 9/11 and hope the best for you Nikki.
Bob Ritger, Friend
Sep 11 2003 11:12AM
I just came across this site. After hearing the name Jim Potorti on the 'Sunday Morning' TV show, I immediately recalled a young geologist I worked with at USGS in Long Island in the late 70's. That Jim Potorti left the USGS and most of us lost track of him. By chance is this the same man? The age, middle name and resembalance are remarkable.
Dennis Sulam, Colleague
Sep 8 2003 12:48PM
I really liked Jim. Although we were in different departments, I'd always stop by if I was in his area and chat for a while. He was such a warm, open guy with a great sense of humor. I only knew him a few years before I left Marsh NY in '90, but his loss is deeply felt by all who knew him. My sincerest condolences to his friend, family and colleagues. Thomas Mooney
thomas mooney, Colleague
Sep 10 2002 12:06PM