Tom Capper was born in DeWitt, IA and graduated high school in 1963. He loved growing up in DeWitt, especially seeing the pink and purple sunsets from the window of his childhood home. While it’s a small community, he saw what a difference was made by the cultural value DeWitt residents put on raising up the next generation through the gift of education. Tom’s unique stroke of genius was to make his scholarship fund available to every graduating class of Central DeWitt High School – not limited to just the most recent one.
Tom never had children of his own but wanted his legacy to make a difference in the lives of many, many children. Tom always said DeWitt was a nice place to grow up – a small farm town. Everybody knew everybody… you could leave your bike lying someplace and nobody would take it. They knew who it belonged to!
Tom and his family moved to a house on a hill just outside of town when he was about 14, with gorgeous views of farmland silhouetted by deeply-colored sunsets. He was never happier than when talking about the lovely community in his hometown.
Tom’s grandfather had owned a successful creamery, which Tom’s father purchased after his grandfather’s passing. When his father came back after flying 25 missions as a navigator on a B7 bomber during WWII, the creamery was highly successful. They supplied butter for the military and sold butter to companies in New York, as did many Iowa creameries. Tom’s father, Leo, also owned a car wash across the street from the creamery and it was very successful, while his mother, Althea, worked hard alongside his dad.
When it came to college, Tom’s folks worked very hard to put him and his sister through school – he attended Westminster College and Bonnie went to William Woods in Fulton, MO. What’s more, he saw scholarships going to those that, perhaps, didn’t need them… and it never sat right with him. One that hit close to home was seeing that his college roommate had won a significant scholarship, even though his parents were both professors at the school – so his tuition was paid-for anyway! Seeing help go to those who didn’t really need it inspired Tom to do something a little different with his legacy.
Tom’s goal was to provide financial help to those for whom it would make a profound difference in their ability to succeed in life.
While Tom was in the Army, he was sent to the DMZ in Korea as a Second Lieutenant and ran the transportation unit. These experiences provided further inspiration for his scholarship concept. He wanted his money to provide scholarships to those whose need was greatest. The people whose lives would be most significantly impacted by having access to continuing education are the ones he wanted to help first.
For those who have demonstrated their own desire, ambition, and will to succeed, the Tommy C. Capper Foundation will provide support that could be the launching pad to achieve their dreams