Brother Capps: why Giving Back Matters
By Beth Grace
To know J.T. Capps III is to wonder: Does this man EVER sleep?
Brother Capps, a member of Ocean #405, is at age 78 a force of good nature. He is dedicated to doing good for others -- and having a little fun while he’s at it.
He’s also, arguably, one of the most famous bald men ever born …. But more on that later.
He joined Masonry only seven years ago, captured by the good works of the brothers he has met around his home in Morehead City. He had good role models: his brother, father, grandfather and great-grandfather had been raised before him.
“I wanted to follow in their footsteps, of course,” he says. “I knew it as finally the right time that I could give the Masons my full commitment, and I knew it would give me the opportunity to be more than who I am, and to share that with others.”
His raising was the latest iteration of the lifelong passion that drives him to give back – of his time, of his talent and of his treasure.
He took the first step in a lifetime of giving some 51 years ago, when he joined Rotary International. There isn’t much he hasn’t done for the 35,000-club global organization that believes members have a shared responsibility to take action on the world’s most persistent issues, including promoting peace, fighting disease, providing clean water, sanitation and hygiene, saving mothers and children, supporting education and growing local economies.
He has traveled all over the world for Rotary, including at least 10 trips to India for humanitarian health clinics, installation of clean water wells, education/literacy projects and National Immunization Days for Polio Plus and later End Polio Now programs. In 2006, the Rotary Club of Sivakasi named their Secondary School's Technology Center the John T. Capps Computer Center. The Polio Hospital in Trivandrum provided opportunities for physical therapy each year by becoming a special place in John T's heart. Because of his commitment to humanitarian service in south India the Rotary Club of Trivandrum-North made John T. an honorary member.
His work has also been recognized back home.
Then-Gov. James Martin, a Mason himself, recognized John T. with the state’s highest citizen honor the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.
But there’s more to this story than the example he sets of charity in action and in deed.
There is, of course, the matter of his hair.
He has none.
And he has capitalized on that.
John T. is the proud founder of the national Bald Headed Men of America. There are more than 35,000 shiny pates out there that claim membership. His organization, which has been profiled on national television and written up in some of the nation’s largest newspapers, celebrates the joy of no hair.
“I started to lose my hair at 15 and was completely bald at 20,” he says. He wasn’t bothered by it – after all, most of the men in his family had lost their hair early. But he knew it bothered others. And if there’s one thing John T. can’t stand it’s an unhappy face.
So in 1974, at age 33, he founded the group and it took off. Members at one time included former President Gerald Ford, and actors Telly Savalas and Yul Brynner. As membership grew, John T. – a printer by trade -- printed up Bald is Beautiful stockers, stocked gag gifts like toothless combs. He holds a convention each year where bald heads from all over compete for such awards as sexiest or smoothest, prettiest or most kissable.
He is a shameless punster, declaring they he is just trying to set a shining example (insert groan here) and admonishing members, “If you haven’t got it, flaunt it.”
He is a proud bald man living his best life, he declares.
“The Lord is just, the Lord is fair, he gave some brains, the others hair,” he says.
He is married to Jane, an honorary Rotary member and past chair of The Salvation Army Advisory Board. The two are virtually inseparable, share a sharp sense of humor and a love of life.
John T. knows he has been blessed in life and believes strongly that he is, as a Mason and a Rotarian, accountable to share his blessings with others.
“Everything I have learned in my life has all been poured into a funnel that has made me me, he says. “I am an ambassador for life.”