Telephone: +1 800 866 0695


Free Fall at 100 : Age Doesn't Slow S. L. Potter, Who Bungee Jumps From 210 Feet


ALPINE, Calif. — Defying age, common sense and the fears of his children, 100-year-old S. L. Potter made his first bungee jump Wednesday from a 210-foot tower, earning what he hopes is a place in history.

Against the backdrop of the Viejas Mountains and cattle grazing nearby, Potter took flight at 2:59 p.m., as dozens of friends from a San Diego area board-and-care home, where he once lived, clapped and cheered.

Strapped into a specially made torso harness, Potter stepped off the platform and plummeted toward the ground. He bounced four times as if on the end of giant yo-yo, his house slippers curling almost to the lip of the pool below.

For several seconds, the stooped, 119-pound Potter dangled motionless and the crowd hushed. "Oh my God!" shrieked an elderly neighbor who wondered if Potter had died.

But when Potter kicked his feet, as if riding a bicycle, and waved with his bony right arm, the crowd broke into laughter and heaved sighs of relief.

After his release from the harness, he complained of feeling tired and asked if he could please have his teeth back. At the last second, his dentures had stayed behind.

As his family and friends crowded around, watched by television cameras, Potter joked: "I'm going home and going to bed."

Asked if he had been scared, he looked offended.

"Hell, no," he said. "I don't get scared."

In seeking to become the world's oldest bungee jumper, Potter ignored the advice of his daughter and three sons, who range in age from 68 and 74. They and his former physician were fearful that he would die in flight and, in fact, might be harboring a death wish.

"It's possible," Potter admitted before the leap. "If I die, I die. I told everybody to bring a shovel and a mop, just in case."

Potter's fearlessness was uppermost in the mind of Dr. Edward Sheldon, the Lemon Grove physician who urged Potter "under no circumstances" to undertake what he considered a foolish and possibly fatal misadventure. Sheldon said he was worried about the age of Potter's bones and skin--stretched taut during a bungee jump.

Potter not only rejected Sheldon's advice, he got himself a new doctor. Dr. Jim Ricketts of Alpine told Potter he not only considered it medically permissible, he admired the old man's grit and fortitude.

But Potter's sons, who watched nervously as he climbed 61 metal steps from an elevator to the top of the tower--the same height as a 21-story building--had also begged him not to do it, for their sake, if nothing else.

"We tried our best to talk him out of it," said Jim Potter, 72, who lives in nearby La Mesa. "It's wild, it's crazy, but he's so independent, you can't change his mind."

The elder Potter got the idea for the jump when son Wallace, 70, drove him to the Viejas Indian Reservation, where the bungee-jumping tower opened three months ago. From that point on, Wallace said, his father dreamed of nothing else.

"I think he's crazy to start with," Wallace said with a shrug. "When he makes up his mind, there's nothing you can do to stop him."

Born June 24, 1893, in Ashland, Ore., Potter has nine grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and 11 great-great-grandchildren, many of whom were on hand Wednesday.

Potter is no stranger to adventure or danger, having courted both most of his life. He has parachuted from planes and soared through the sky in a hot-air balloon. He raced motorcycles and stock cars, and drove a golf cart until a truck hit him three years ago.

As a teen-ager, his sons said, he once stretched a high wire across the Pudding River and sauntered across to the amazement of the startled townsfolk, who told him he was better than anything in the circus.

"I'm not a daredevil," he said. "I just like thrills. I just like to do things that everybody else don't do."

Potter labored most of his life as the chief mechanic and owner of a wheel-balancing and brake shop and said he wished his risk-taking had extended to his business sense. He once had a chance to buy commercial property in San Diego--now worth millions--"for pennies," but turned the man down.

Potter has a picture in his scrapbook of himself, standing beside famed flier Charles A. Lindbergh and the legendary airplane Potter helped build, the Spirit of St. Louis. Potter said Lindbergh was a kindred spirit, "a big kid like me."

"I never liked to read about things," Potter said. "I wanted to do them."

At least one of Potter's neighbors in the La Mesa apartment building where he now lives regards him as a hero.

"I have a lot of feeling for him," said Ruth Skigan, 71. "His spunk, his bravery are something to behold. If we could all be like that, think of the world could we have . . . a world without fear. Yes, the world could use a few more like him."



List of Articles
Subject Date Views

Albert Einstein and Fixed Indexed Annuities: Finding Peace of Mind During Retirement

As retirees work toward a peaceful retirement, they tend to remain on the same path that led to where they are today, waiting out any tumultuous periods in the market. Instead of using the volatile market as a means to change course, or at ...

  • Jan 20, 2016
  • Views 60

Medicare Premiums & Deductibles 2016 file

  • Dec 05, 2015
  • Views 28

$4,363 tax bills jolt L.A. workers

This tax season, many Los Angeles residents with home-based businesses received letters from the city that hit them right where they live and had frightening implications. The key line in the letters from the Office of Finance reads: "The f...

  • Oct 27, 2015
  • Views 226

How Work Can (Temporarily) Reduce Your Social Security Check

Here’s the scenario: You retired last fall at age 63 with great expectations of all the new things you would be able to do with your free time. Except that learning jazz piano has proven more challenging than you thought, your spouse ...

  • Sep 25, 2015
  • Views 6

Same-sex couples able to collect spousal Social Security benefits

Kathy Phelan (right) and her late wife, Kaye, legally married in 2013. But Phelan was denied survivor benefits from Social Security after Kaye succumbed to cancer last year. Same-sex couples across the U.S. will now be able to collect spous...

  • Sep 01, 2015
  • Views 4

An Exclusive Team for Physicians! file

  • Jun 05, 2015
  • Views 11

Free Fall at 100 file

Free Fall at 100 : Age Doesn't Slow S. L. Potter, Who Bungee Jumps From 210 Feet October 14, 1993|MICHAEL GRANBERRY | LA TIMES STAFF WRITER ALPINE, Calif. — Defying age, common sense and the fears of his children, 100-year-old S. ...

  • May 28, 2015
  • Views 311

Questions to Consider When Selecting a Business Entity

When setting up a new business, it is important to put some thought into the legal structure of your company. Many business owners simply start the business to see if the business idea is valid before they ever even think about the legal st...

  • Apr 30, 2015
  • Views 6

Millennials lean more on parents (but please don't call it mooching)

Corrections and clarifications: A previous version of a graphic in this story incorrectly identified the percentage of Millennials currently receiving help from their parents and the percentage of parents currently giving help. Millennials ...

  • Apr 22, 2015
  • Views 243

Can I have both Medicare and VA benefits?

Q: I am going to be 65 next year, and I have a nice coverage from VA benefits. Can I have both Medicare and VA benefits, and if so, what additional coverages am I suppposed to buy? A: You can have both Medicare and Veterans Affairs (VA) ben...

  • Apr 17, 2015
  • Views 3

16 percent of retired NFL players go bankrupt: Study

Success in the National Football League doesn't protect players from bankruptcy. Nearly 16 percent of NFL players drafted between 1996 and 2003 declared bankruptcy within 12 years of retirement, according to a new working paper released...

  • Apr 16, 2015
  • Views 22

The Power of MFTA: Risk Free, Tax Free Retirement

Tax-Advantaged Strategies Money that grows under tax-favorable circumstances is money that not only grows, but remains your money. Knowing how to accumulate your money tax-free, rather than just tax-deferred, means that your nest egg remain...

  • Feb 23, 2015
  • Views 39

The Shocking Reality about Federal Employees Disability Benefits

The reality is, most Federal Employees don’t have any idea what their long term disability plan would pay if they got sick or hurt. Don’t get me wrong. I think it is great that the Federal Government has a plan in place at no co...

  • Nov 20, 2014
  • Views 22

Top 8 Year-End Tax Tips

Act before Dec. 31 to increase your tax breaks Whether you are having a good year, rebounding from recent losses, or still struggling to get off the ground, you may be able to save a bundle on your taxes if you make the right moves before t...

  • Nov 18, 2014
  • Views 43

Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)

Retirement accounts like IRAs and 401(k)s are attractive because the government allows earnings in these accounts to defer taxes—but only for so long. Once you turn 70½, you're required to withdraw a minimum amount every ye...

  • Aug 26, 2014
  • Views 23

California gives further reprieve for Obamacare...

"I know a lot of people wait until the last minute," Caceres said. "And I was one of them." In contrast to those in many other states, California's exchange website had largely avoided major technical problems. But even it was hard hit ...

  • Apr 01, 2014
  • Views 75

Year-End Tax Tips for 2013

Year 2013 Tax Returb Key Points These tax tips for 2013 address key areas of your financial life: portfolio planning, retirement, education planning and charitable giving. It never hurts to consult with a tax professional about your unique ...

  • Nov 21, 2013
  • Views 13

Social Security Trust Fund to Run Dry in 2033?

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Medicare’s finances got an upgrade on Friday but the long-term prognosis for Social Security stayed the same, in the latest snapshots of the politically sensitive entitlement programs that are certain ...

  • Sep 12, 2013
  • Views 4

When Should We Take Social Security? file

Social Security Benefits Maximizing Strategies The Social Security program allows you to start receiving benefits as soon as you reach age 62. The question is, “should you?” Monthly payments differ substantially depending on whe...

  • Jun 20, 2013
  • Views 3
Social Security Reports
Social Security is enormously complex. Making correct decisions will maximize your lifetime benefits. A Powerful Strategy for Starting Social Security! Get Your Complimentary Social Security Snapshot Report Today!
More Info
What We Do
At Good Life Advisors, the measure of our success is your success. When you are happy, we are happy too. We take the time to listen and get to know our clients.
More Info

Sign In


Keep me signed in.