A family feud could end with a 91-year-old World War II veteran (pictured above) on the streets after his own daughter gained ownership of his home in southern Ohio and served him with an eviction notice. Now John Potter's granddaughter, Jaclyn Fraley, is racing against the clock to keep the war vet in the home that he cherishes. But come June 12, he could be thrown out of the house for good.
Fraley told AOL Real Estate that when the elderly Potter fell ill in 2004, he signed power of attorney over to his daughter, Janice Cottrill. (Fraley is Cottrill's daughter.) Cottrill then had Potter's Zaleski, Ohio, home -- which he built and lived in for 54 years, according to WCMH-TV in Columbus -- transferred into her name. Cottrill also took custody of her autistic brother, who is Potter's son and Fraley's uncle, after he had lived in Potter's home all his life, Fraley said. A feud had erupted between Cottrill and Potter over visitation rights, and culminated with Cottrill serving Potter with eviction, Fraley said.
"He doesn't share that this hurts him, but you can tell that it's hurting him," Fraley told AOL Real Estate. (Both Fraley and Potter are pictured at left.) She said it hurts her, too, explaining that she hasn't spoken to her mother, aside from communication through lawyers, in two years. Fraley and Potter went to court to try and get his home back, but it sided with Cottrill in a May 2012 decision that the statute of limitations for Potter to bring suit had passed. Potter is still living in the home, but a judge is expected to hand down an eviction time-frame to Potter on June 12.
When contacted by AOL Real Estate, Janice Cottrill and her husband, Dean, declined to comment. Their lawyer, Lorene Johnston, told AOL Real Estate that Potter and Fraley are "attempting to stir up public sentiment for themselves." She called the upcoming eviction hearing "a simple eviction process for someone who doesn't own the home and doesn't pay any rent."
Dean Cottrill did tell WCMH, which first reported this story, that Potter had been filing suit against him and Janice for visitation rights with his son. "For him to stay in that home, it is real simple. Leave Joe alone and stop the lawsuits," Dean Cottrill told WCMH, referring to Potter's autistic son.
Now Fraley says that she is taking matters into her own hands to keep her grandfather in the home he loves. She's set up a fundraising site on GoFundMe.com, asking people to donate money to help her buy back Potter's home from her mother. Her goal is $125,000, and she's hoping to get there before her grandfather's eviction hearing. As of Wednesday evening, she had raised $9,442 through 242 donations -- and a lot of support.
"I hope he gets his house back, and lives out his best years in his house," donor John Pirrone wrote on Fraley's fundraising page. "Thank you for coming through for us in WWII, I hope that we can come through for you," wrote donor Robert Sharpe.
Fraley said her grandfather has been bowled over by the support. One veteran even donated $1,000 to her effort, she said. "The veterans community has been overwhelmingly supportive," Fraley said. "To see this go almost viral, it's what happens when one of your wildest dreams come true."
Potter thanked everyone who has helped him so far in a video Fraley recorded and posted to YouTube: