By Jerry Jensen
Ninety-three-year-old Exeter native Bill Capps can usually be found enjoying his breakfast at the Exeter Golf Course every weekday. A lifelong resident, he says he is an expert on the history of the city since he has lived here through most of it. Most mornings he is joined by Henry Simpson, age 85, retired principal and golf coach at Exeter Union High School. He moved here from Missouri in 1959. Their table is always full of fellow golfers and storytellers.
We consider ourselves to be great conversationalists because at our age we can repeat the same story every day since we don’t remember we already told it and no one else remembers they already heard it. Just kidding – Bill and Henry’s memories are as sharp as ever. Bill was born in Exeter in 1925 and still lives in the same home he and wife Jackie built for $10,000 in 1950. They met in elementary school and were married for 73 years before Jackie passed away in 2017.
Mr. Capps served as a member of the finance committee for Exeter United Methodist Church and was recognized as Exeter Lion of the Year where he was a member for over 50 years. In 2000, he was chosen as alumnus of the year for Exeter Union High School. For many years he owned the C&E Market on the south end of the city and, continuing a Depression era tradition, many of his customers bought their groceries on credit up until the mid-1970s.
Graduating from Exeter High in 1943, one year before the D-Day landing in World War II, Bill said nearly every boy in the class was ordered to report for their military physical exam just four days later. He boarded the train carrying him to Navy boot camp within a month and returned to the city in 1945. Over 418,000 other young Americans were killed during the war.
Last Thursday, Bill had a fairly typical day when he made a 25-foot putt for a birdie during our weekly Seniors Golf Tournament. He didn’t do an end zone celebration — he fully expected to make it. Don’t let Bill’s or Henry’s ages fool you into making a bet once they are within 20 feet of the hole — they are pretty likely to take your money. Their trophy shelves are full of awards won decades ago at various area golf courses.
Through it all, Mr. Capps has maintained his sharp sense of humor and every morning he is prepared to discuss everything from sports to politics over bacon and eggs and plenty of coffee. But you best not speak ill of his beloved Dodgers if you want to stay on his good side. Bill played shortstop at Exeter High. His stories about the days when telephones were all on “party lines,” and kids left their bikes unlocked while they paid a dime to watch black and white movie matinees, remind us of simpler days when we talked rather than texted.
– This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer(s) and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.