Dr. William Henry Captitan:October 17, 2022
Published 10:12 am Monday, October 24, 2022
Dr. William Harry Capitan passed away on Monday evening, October 17, 2022 at Golden Isles Hospice in Brunswick.
Funeral services were held at 10:00 AM on Monday, October 24, at Calvary Episcopal Church with Father Richard Nelson officiating. Interment followed in Oak Grove Cemetery.
William Harry Capitan was born on February 7, 1933 in Owosso, Michigan. He was the second son born to Chrysanthe Sarris and Anastasias Kapetanakis, whose name was changed to Harry Capitan when he came through Ellis Island in the early 1900s. Bill’s big brother, James Harry Capitan, has been his best friend his entire life. The Capitan family owned and operated a small candy factory and a Greek-American restaurant for over fifty years.
Bill was a very bright student, played high school football, and, even as a first generation American from a small town, was elected governor of Boys’ State. He earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Michigan, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa and was a member of the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity. He earned his master’s and PhD in philosophy from the University of Minnesota. In Minneapolis, he met Dolores Marie Randolph. Dolores was a fellow student, a full-time nurse, and the second of ten children in a strong, loving family from Hastings, Nebraska. They were married for fifty-four years until her death in 2013.
Bill taught philosophy at the University of Maryland, where his daughter Rita was born, and at Oberlin College, where his son Edwin Andrew was born. The young family sailed to London on the SS France for Bill’s sabbatical. They lived in Paris while he studied at the Louvre and wrote “The Philosophy of Art.” He also wrote “The Philosophy of Religion,” which is still in use as a textbook. He published a “how-to” book on giving speeches called “Speak for Yourself,” a novel called “Mists on Mt. Athos,” and a text called “The Ethical Navigator,” which was inspired by his experience teaching at the University of Georgia Honors Program. He also published numerous scholarly articles in academic journals during his career.
Bill was the dean of fine arts at Saginaw Valley State College, and vice president of academic affairs at West Virginia Wesleyan College. He served as president of Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus, Georgia for fourteen years. Bill and Dolores loved Americus, where they developed close friendships with both “town and gown.” They traveled extensively in Europe and Asia, and cherished the many friendships they developed through the relationship between Georgia Southwestern and its sister college in Taipei, Taiwan.
Bill was also a certified captain. After retirement from Georgia Southwestern, Bill served in many capacities in Flotilla 10-10 of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. Bill also obtained his certification as a mediator with the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution. In his 80s, he earned his master’s degree in counseling. He interned as a therapist with HUGS of Savannah, where he counseled many clients, which was one of the greatest satisfactions of his life. He later joined the board of directors of HUGS, and the family is very grateful to HUGS for recently establishing the William Capitan Legacy Society.
For the last eight years, Bill was privileged to share his life with Elizabeth (“Betty”) Hewitt. Bill and Betty traveled extensively to destinations in Europe and the United States, where they were often joined by Bill’s brother Jim and his wife Tina. Betty and Bill brought much love and joy into each other’s and their families’ lives.
Survivors include his brother James Harry Capitan (Christine) of Mentor, Ohio; son Edwin Andrew Capitan of Americus and Saint Simons Island; daughter Rita Capitan Spalding (Jeffrey Buerstatte) of Saint Simons Island; four grandchildren: Charles Gowen Spalding, Jr. (Kellie) of Atlanta, William Randolph Spalding of Savannah, Benedict Huston Spalding (Heather) of Peachtree City, Chancellor Cunningham Buerstatte of Savannah; and his beloved companion Betty Hewitt of Saint Simons Island. His great grandchildren are Gisele Giuliana Morris, Vendela Juliet Morris, and Patrick Johnson Spalding. Bill cherished his relationships with his niece Chrysanthe Capitan-Valais and nephew Perry Capitan. Bill is also survived by his siblings-in-law: Sister Micaela Randolph, Mary Randolph Pope, Rita Randolph Hunter (Robert), Michael Randolph (Patricia), Edward Randolph, Patrick Randolph (Mary Jo), and many nieces and nephews.
The family is deeply grateful to Dr. Mitchell Jones, Dr. William Grubb, Dr. Ricardo Perez, Dr. David Whitehead, Dr. Sarah Yeskel, to the nurses and staff at Southeast Georgia Regional Medical Center, for the excellent care he received at the Senior Care Center, and for Golden Isles Hospice, especially Sandra Sams. In lieu of flowers, please make contributions to the William Capitan Legacy Society at HUGS of Savannah at www.headsupsavannah.org/donate or via check to PO Box 16026, Savannah, Georgia 31416. Contributions may also be made to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Brunswick, Georgia or Calvary Episcopal Church in Americus, Georgia.
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Hancock Funeral Home, 427 S. Lee St., is honored to be entrusted with these arrangements for Dr. William Harry Capitan.