Guy Michael “Mike” Cappel passed away unexpectedly on March 30, 2020. He was born August 4, 1947, on the West Side of Cincinnati. He is survived by his devoted wife and best friend of 52 years, Deborah (nee Petrie) and three children, Michelle “Shelly” Gillis (Joe), Harry (Nikki) and Pat (Debbie). Amazing grandfather to Sam and Sophia Gillis; Kaitlyn, Madison, Brady, and Allie Cappel; and Isabelle, Alaina, and Clark Cappel. Brother to Terry, Jennifer (Gerry), Jeff, Harriet (Gordon), Don (Wyndi), and Larry and is preceded in death by his father, Harry, his mother, Rita and his younger brother, Joe. He was the uncle to 16 nieces and nephews.
Mike was a proud graduate of Elder High School, Class of 1965. At Elder, Mike was on the first Elder wrestling team, and he was one of the first Elder wrestlers to receive a Division I Athletic Scholarship. After Elder, he attended the University of Cincinnati and graduated with a BA in Special Education. Mike remained a loyal Elder Panther, and was a proud season ticket holder for over 25 years. One of Mike’s proudest moment was when he received Elder High School’s Distinguished Alumni award for Christian Leadership in 2010 for his service and dedication to Catholic education.
During college, Mike served as a dorm advisor at St. Rita School for the Deaf and it was there that his passion for teaching and coaching deaf students began. After graduating from the University of Cincinnati, Mike and Debbie traveled across the country to his first teaching position at Oregon State School for the Deaf, where he taught and coached Varsity Baseball and Varsity Track. From there, he moved to Indiana State School for the Deaf where he taught and coached Varsity Baseball and Varsity Wrestling.
In 1974, Mike and Debbie returned to Cincinnati and Mike returned to St. Rita School for the Deaf where he began teaching and coaching. He retired after 35 years, having loved every moment spent with the students and faculty. Mike taught government, history, economics, and driver’s education to hundreds of students. Mike also served as the school’s Athletic Director for a number of years, and the head coach of six different varsity sports, making a total of eight different varsity sports coached over his career. Mike had a special passion for the St. Rita football teams and he looked and played the part perfectly. One of Mike’s greatest joys was coaching the girls’ basketball team. He reluctantly agreed to do so when the school couldn’t find a coach who knew sign language. Coaching this sport and working with these athletes was the pinnacle of his entire coaching career. Simply put, Mike loved his students and his players.
Mike was the epitome of a family man and demonstrated daily that family always comes first. His life was full of passion for his wife, his family, his faith, his friends, and his beloved Cincinnati Reds.
Mike met Debbie in 1966 at the Sunset Lounge and it was love at first sight. They were married on September 2, 1967, and celebrated over 52 years of marriage. Mike loved to be with his “Shorty” and they spent every day together including hundreds of softball games, trips to Put-In Bay and the “beautiful” Smoky Mountains in Tennessee.
Mike was the “best” dad and grandfather to his family. Even with his busy career at St. Rita’s, he always found time to be with his family. He coached all three of his children (and some grandchildren) in numerous sports, and on most weekends you could find him and Debbie at the Our Lady of Victory fields cheering on his grandchildren. He taught his family many lessons, most importantly – family comes first, enjoy the simple things in life, and be positive. Mike was fiercely loyal to his family, his children and grandchildren. They always knew he was their biggest fan.
Mike’s faith was an inspiration and the foundation of his life, which he led with humility, gratitude and optimism. He appreciated God’s work each and every day - whether it was his wife’s smile, a beautiful rose, a brilliant sunset, or a Fourth of July firework display.
Mike was lucky to have a number of great friends and he was as loyal to them as he was to his family. Most of Mike’s friendships were formed on a softball field, playing the game he truly loved and a game he played the “right way.”
Finally, Mike loved the Cincinnati Reds and was undoubtedly their number one fan. He would tape Reds games to ensure that he would never miss an inning or a play and would get so upset if anyone mistakenly shared the outcome early. Days and nights were spent sitting on his deck, kids in the pool, cold drink in hand, and the Reds on the radio or TV.
“Put me in Coach, I’m ready to play.” We know Mike is running onto the field at the great ball park in the sky… lookout Heaven!
A Celebration of Life will take place at a date to be determined. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to St. Rita School for the Deaf, 1720 Glendale Milford Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45215.
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