For decades during his mid-life, James Capitan was a strong and effective advocate for the ages. Now… he is among them. Not that his appearance and actions suggest someone much beyond eighty, Mr. Capitan is 93 as of Tuesday, March 6. Among the founders of the Shiawassee Council on Aging, and a many-year representative on the tri-county Valley Area Agency on Aging, Jim looks back with pride and satisfaction on the many services and programs that are now provided for our needy senior citizens.
These laudable efforts, however, were only a small segment in a life of exceptional community service that included decades as a county commissioner and Owosso City council member. Both of those positions quite unexpectedly arose from solicitations to fill vacant seats, but continued with multiple reelections, and selections as commission chairman and mayor of Owosso. Exemplifying a trait that is sorely lacking in most present day politicians, Jim was noted for his willingness to work cordially with political opponents, always in the best interests of his community.
Along the way, Mr. Capitan served the America Red Cross, the American Heart Association, as a chairman of the United Way, a representative on the Michigan Township Association, and a member and chairman of the Shiawassee Foundation. As a life-long Owosso resident, he is a graduate of OHS, where he is recognized on its “Wall of Honor.” He served the U.S. Navy near the end of WWII, and attended MSU. For nearly 50 years, he is affectionately remembered as the proprietor and host of the beloved Capitan’s family restaurant, an area landmark and meeting place for generations of residents from 1903 until it closed in 1989. It was once noted to be one of the longest existing family-owned eateries in America.
By his peers, James Capitan has also been recognized with a Congressional citation, as Owosso Citizen of the Year, and as Curwood Grand Marshal. In 2009, he was especially honored by the renaming of a county building in Corunna as the “James P. Capitan Center/Hoshner Building.” All of these were so rightly deserved by a man of remarkable modesty.
It is with respect and appreciation I reiterate this brief story of a valued friend, to remind a younger generation and newcomers of what a difference one man can make in any small community, like ours.
Happy birthday, Jim.
John Morovitz, Owosso