Braille Monitor                          February 2019

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Betty Capps Dies

by Gary Wunder

Betty Capps, May 5, 1931 - December 17, 2018Helen Betty Capps started making the world a better place on May 5, 1931, and she continued to do so until December 17, 2018. Many of us knew Betty in the way she wanted to be known—as part of the team known as Don and Betty Capps. If there was light to be shined as a result of her work, she preferred that it be shined on Don, and this was very much in keeping with women of her generation.

Few virtues are more important than loyalty, and the name Betty Capps is synonymous with this most admirable of qualities. Betty married Donald in 1949. Together they had two children, Craig and Beth. Beth preceded Betty in death, and knowing that once again they are together is a source of comfort for the family in these difficult times.

For sixty-five years Betty Capps was everything her husband could have desired in a soulmate, a helpmate, and a trusted soldier in the movement they both shared in growing and nurturing, the National Federation of the Blind. Where you saw Don, there you also saw Betty. Where Don traveled, there you would find Betty. He did not like to fly, so she drove them across the country to do the work that helped blind people have the Federation we enjoy today. "The only place Mom didn't drive Dad was Hawaii. She liked to fly, but he didn't, so that was that," said son Craig. “She was just as much an advocate, but she helped in different ways,” he said. “She had three priorities: being a mother to her children, helping my dad, and being an advocate for the blind.”

While she certainly helped with traditional tasks such as driving and reading, she was much more central to the team of Don and Betty. She could help him read a group, devise a strategy, be a part of his institutional memory, and give her sage advice reflective of her education, good manners, southern traditions, dignity, and her ample supply of common sense. It may go without saying, but the success and dedication of a couple requires two committed people, and no one was ever more committed to another than Don to Betty. In talking about his considerable work and success, Don did not say I; he said Betty and I—the manifestation of profound love, and gratitude to the creator who saw to it that they found and embraced one another.

Betty was kind to everyone but was reserved by nature. Her close friends were few in number, but they knew they had no better friend than she. As Lois Tucker said, "When you had Betty as a friend, you had the best friend possible, and you had a friend for life. There were so many things I could tell you that Betty has done for others, but part of Betty's being a friend was doing things quietly and without notice. She was always so nice to our children, and even with all the traveling she did, it was clear that her own children would continue to receive the best of care and love."

Marshall Tucker remembers being required to move to Columbia, South Carolina, to change jobs. For three months he lived with the Capps family. "When Don heard that I was staying at the YMCA, he immediately invited me to stay with his family. Of course, Betty was the one who did the work of making a space for me and seeing that I had something to eat. For three months she made their home my home. I will never forget this kindness."

Craig treasures his mother for being many things, but the thing he values most is the role she played in her family. “Mom always insisted on our being together for Christmas. When for many years I lived in New York, Mom would start calling around September to make sure I was coming and to find out when I’d arrive. Those calls continued until she had a firm yes and a firm time when I’d be there.”

Gracious, a lady in the finest tradition, a mother second to none—all of these descriptions and more only begin to hint at the person Betty was and to the character that has shaped the lives of her children and has made better so many lives for people who are blind. We thank Betty for the person she was and for the opportunity to know her. Those who knew her knew love, for she exemplified it. Whether we knew her personally or by reputation, we have all been blessed by her life and her life’s work.

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