Few more compelling examples of personal independence and social contribution can be found among either sighted or blind Americans than Donald C. Capps of Columbia, South Carolina. Since the inception of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina in 1956, he has served nine two-year terms as president and presently holds that office. Capps was elected to the second vice presidency of the National Federation of the Blind in 1959 and served in that capacity until 1968. In that year he was elected First Vice President and served with distinction in that position until 1984 when, for health reasons, he asked that his name not be placed in nomination. In 1985 Capps (restored in health) was again enthusiastically and unanimously elected to membership on the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind.
Born in 1928, Capps was educated at the South Carolina School for the Blind and later in public schools. Following his graduation from high school he enrolled in Draughon's Business College in Columbia and, upon receiving his diploma, joined the Colonial Life and Accident Insurance Company of Columbia as a claims examiner trainee. By the time of his retirement, he had risen to the position of Staff Manager of the Claims Department.
Capps first became interested in the organized blind movement in 1953 and by the following year had been elected president of the Columbia Chapter of the Aurora Club of the Blind (now the N.F.B. of South Carolina), which he headed for two years before assuming the presidency of the state organization. Under Capps's energetic leadership the N.F.B. of South Carolina has successfully backed twenty-three pieces of legislation concerning the blind in the state, including establishment of a separate agency serving the blind. Capps edits the Palmetto Blind, the quarterly publication of the N.F.B. of South Carolina, articles from which are frequently reprinted in national journals for the blind. In 1960 Capps directed a campaign which led to construction of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina's $250,000 education and recreation center, which was expanded in 1970, and again in 1978. He now serves as a member of its Board of Trustees. In this role he has been instrumental in establishing full-time daily operation of the Federation Center. In addition, Capps has served for more than thirty years as the successful fundraising chairman of the Columbia Chapter. In 1963 Capps was appointed to the Governor's Committee on the Employment of the Physically Handicapped.
In December, 1972, the Colonial Life and Accident Insurance Company presented Capps with an award for
"twenty-five years of efficient, faithful and loyal service"
in his managerial capacity. In 1984 Don Capps retired from the Colonial Life and Accident Insurance Company after thirty-eight years of service.
In 1965 Donald Capps was honored as Handicapped Man of the Year, both by his city of Columbia and by his state. In 1967 he was appointed to the Governor's Statewide Planning Committee on Rehabilitation Needs of the Disabled. Capps was elected president of the Rotary Club of Forest Acres of Columbia in 1974. In 1977 he was elected Vice Chairman of the South Carolina Commission for the Blind Consumer Advisory Committee. Also in 1977, at the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind, Don Capps received the highest honor that can be bestowed by the organized blind movement, the Jacobus tenBroek Award.
Honor and recognition continue to come to Donald Capps. In 1981 he was appointed by the Governor of South Carolina to membership on the Board of Commissioners of the South Carolina School for the Blind, a body on which he now serves as Vice Chairman. In September, 1988, Donald Capps was a member of the N.F.B. delegation to the Second General Assembly of the World Blind Union held in Madrid, Spain.
Betty Capps has been an active Federationist as long as her husband has. The Cappses have two grown children, Craig and Beth, and two grandchildren. Although Donald Capps has retired from business, he continues to be as active and effective as ever in the Federation, exemplifying leadership and confidence. His ongoing dedication to the National Federation of the Blind provides inspiration and encouragement to his many colleagues and friends within and outside the Federation.
Read the 2007 update to this article.
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