Joseph “Joe” Cap, of Bridgewater, formerly of West Bridgewater, peacefully passed away on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, three days after his 88th birthday. He was born to the late Stephen and Dumilia (Suda) Cap on May 31,1932 in Bridgewater, MA. As a child of immigrants from Galicia (now part of Austria) growing up in America during the Depression, he learned the importance of hard work, the value of a dollar, and the worth of a never-ending education.
Joe graduated early from Bridgewater Academy in 1949, completing both his junior and senior years together. As a man of unflinching morals and a sense of duty, he then went on to serve his country in the Korean War in the Company second Battalion 21st Infantry Regiment serving in Japan and South Korea, including at the Koje-Do POW camp. A pacifist and peaceful man by nature, he served as a staff supply sergeant, responsible for maintaining inventory and minimizing waste, while assuring that everyone had the clothing and equipment needed for their safety. Even after his honorable discharge, he would spend the majority of his life thereafter doing the same good, hard work, and making sure that everyone in his life was well cared for and safe.
In 1956, on their day off from work, he and Carolyn May Chamberlin eloped and were married in Maine. He then built a home for both of them and later their daughter Joanna in West Bridgewater, MA. The door there was always open to family and friends, the neighborhood kids, and any injured or orphaned woodland creature in need of a home. Everyone was welcome at any time, and there was always enough food on the table for all. He would live there until the last thirteen years of his life, when he returned to live in the family home in Bridgewater, MA.
Throughout his life, Joe was a hard worker, taking on a multitude of jobs. No matter what he was employed doing, he never let himself be defined by the job. He, instead, defined the job. His well-worn hands were always busy, whether they were holding a steering wheel as a truck driver, a wrench as a mechanic, or a broom as a custodian at the local public school. He could fix anything and everything - bicycles, cars, air conditioners, even his granddaughter’s favorite hair clip. He could take anything apart and put it back together better than it was in the first place. Even after retirement, he was constantly tinkering, constantly working, and more than that, constantly making sure his family was taken care of.
Joe was a man of many interests and talents. He took up photography as a teenager and enjoyed developing his own photos. He taught himself to play guitar by ear, owning countless guitars over the years, including his prized Martin D-18 from the early 1950’s. He and Carolyn loved having friends over on Saturday nights, singing country tunes, and having pizza from Cape Cod Cafe. In their younger years, he and Carolyn enjoyed square dancing, often at the home of his brother George and sister-in-law Vera.
One of his favorite things to do was to go to yard sales and flea markets, where he could find a good bargain. In the 1970’s, he and his daughter Joanna would head out at 5 am to get first crack at the treasures awaiting them at the Norton Flea Market. He loved finding new and unusual things, as well as the mundane that he could repurpose. Joe was a trendsetter- he knew what upcycling was before it was cool.
He loved to learn, and then pass on that knowledge to his daughter and later, grandchildren, whether it was teaching his grandson, Michael, all the states before kindergarten, or giving sage career advice to his granddaughter, Amy, when she was a toddler. He inspired a life-long love of learning in them. He learned on his own about automobile repair and restoration, how to fix water heaters and plumbing, as well as house construction which came in handy when he built a home for his daughter and her family.
He was a man of principles and he stuck to them. He did things not out of obligation, but because it was the right thing to do. If someone asked for his help, he would gladly give it, often teaching the person a new skill in the process. Many of the teenage boys in West Bridgewater learned car repair and maintenance as well as how to install stereo equipment while in Joe’s driveway. He was a brilliant man and he could explain the most complicated scientific principles and make them seem so simple.
He loved telling his infamous Joe Cap jokes:
"I once had a dog named Tax. I opened the door...and in come Tax!"
"I see" said the blind man, as he picked up his hammer and saw.
“You know what they say… if the shoe fits, buy two.”
“If your nose runs, and your feet smell, maybe you’re upside down.”
And about his daughter, who was an “only child”:
“She’s not spoiled, she just smells that way.”
He had a special connection with all of the world’s creatures, and had dozens of pets over his lifetime, including numerous cats (whom he gave affectionate nicknames like “Yellow Cat, Big Yellow Cat, Grey Cat, Little Grey Cat, Tiger cat…”) several dogs, squirrels, a couple raccoons, a sparrow hawk, opossums, a pigeon, rabbits, and even a flying squirrel. He literally was able to make friends with the “junk-yard dog”. For the animals that weren’t practical to keep in a ranch-style home, he would settle for visiting them at the Brockton Fair. His favorites included the goats, who would eat the ride tickets out of his shirt pocket while the giraffe would steal his cowboy hat.
He enjoyed travel, beginning with a cross-country trip with his brother Harry in 1949. After his honorable discharge from the army, he continued to travel the world when he could. Once married, he would take his wife and later his daughter on cross-country road trips on multiple occasions, visiting the Grand Ole Opry, Old Faithful, the Badlands, Disneyland and even Disney World the first year it opened. He and his brother George once drove to Atlantic City to see a boxing match that was over in a matter of moments. Once his grandchildren were born, he enjoyed taking his family to the Brockton Fair multiple times every year, Nantasket beach, the Cape Cod Canal, and local duck ponds. He loved the simple act of going for a car ride, and stopping at diners along the way.
He loved his family. More than anything. While he didn't put it in words, it was glaringly obvious how much he loved them. You just knew, when he was asking about the air pressure in your tires, or asking how much gas was in your tank, or if you needed any money, or if you were going to be late for school, or to be careful with loose change in your car. That was him telling you that you were loved.
He is predeceased by Carolyn,his wife of 49 years, who he loved dearly, even when things got tough. He always made sure she was cared for, and that she had whatever needed, even when she literally ran away from home.
He is survived by his adoring daughter Joanna May (Cap) Pistone, son-in-law John Pistone, his cherished grandchildren Michael Pistone and Amy (Pistone) Woodward, and two cats whose names are debatable. He is predeceased by siblings Mary, Harry, George, Anna, and Michael.
He would do anything, for anyone, no matter who you were. He was a good man. He is, and will always be, incredibly loved and missed. We’ll see you on the moon.
There are no services scheduled at this time.
For those who wish, donations to Fresh Start Wildlife Rehab, 240 Riverlin Street, Millbury, MA 01527-4154 would be greatly appreciated. Their Paypal account is firstname.lastname@example.org or Venmo is @ashley-Makridakis.
To send condolences: www.oneillfuneral.com
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