Gift Honors Family’s Connection to Northwestern


Northwestern University alumni Ann Suker Potter and Stephen N. Potter of Kenilworth, Illinois, have been supporting Northwestern since the mid-1980s, when they made their first gift of $150 to support scholarships. Since then, their generosity has touched the University’s libraries, the Kellogg School of Management and the Feinberg School of Medicine. In January 2017, the couple documented a $1 million bequest to benefit the Jacob R. Suker, MD, Professorship in Medical Education.

“The faculty and staff at Northwestern are so talented, and we know how expensive it is to stay at the leading edge of healthcare at Feinberg,” Stephen Potter said. “We appreciate this great institution that we have in our midst and feel that we and others who are able have an obligation to sustain it.”

The Suker Professorship has been held by Roopal V. Kundu, ’01 MD, ’02 GME, since September 2016 (read more about her here).

Ann and Stephen Potter created a legacy with a gift that honors Ann’s father, Jacob R. Suker, ’56 MD.

An Enduring Family Legacy

The Potters met while pursuing their undergraduate studies at Duke University, but didn’t date until the two were at Northwestern — Ann was earning her master of arts in public policy and Stephen his master of management in business. They married two weeks after graduation in 1982.

The couple’s gratitude for Northwestern goes even beyond their status as alumni — Ann’s father, Jacob R. Suker, ’56 MD, for which the professorship they are supporting is named, served on Feinberg’s faculty for his entire career.

“Because of our family’s longstanding association with Northwestern and its medical school, we had some understanding of the great work being done there, but this new connection has deepened our appreciation and, unexpectedly, enriched our lives,” Ann Potter said.

Suker came to Northwestern in 1941 at the age of 16 to pursue his undergraduate education. After serving in the merchant marine during World War II, he returned to accept his bachelor of arts degree in 1947 and received his master of science in biochemistry in 1951. He continued at Northwestern, earning his medical degree in 1956, followed by his internship and residency training. He joined the medical school faculty as an assistant professor in 1962.

Suker went on to establish an integrated residency program at McGaw Medical Center. Its success led to his appointment as assistant dean and later associate dean for Medical Education. In this role, he was responsible for graduate education and continuing medical education programs and had a significant impact on myriad Northwestern medical trainees. He also served as team physician for the Chicago Cubs for 28 years and as medical director for the Wrigley Company. He passed away in 1989 after a battle with lung cancer.

Even though he died nearly 30 years ago, most of the people we meet who have been affiliated with Northwestern for a while know who he is and the impact he made.

“Jake was a great scientist and doctor, but really I think of him as a devoted humanist,” Stephen Potter said. “He made every one of his patients and every person around him feel good, regardless of their economic or social status. He spent the same amount of time with the factory workers he cared for at Wrigley Company as he would with the University president.”

“We are so grateful that the University recognizes my father, and we want to help to continue his legacy,” Ann Potter said. “It is amazing: Even though he died nearly 30 years ago, most of the people we meet who have been affiliated with Northwestern for a while know who he is and the impact he made.”