Richard J. Cappotto, who was known as Dick or “D.C.,” died peacefully in his sleep on Sept. 4, 2021. He had been in a memory care facility in Jacksonville, Fla. for the previous six months; his Provincetown daughter, Karen, confirmed that his death was caused by old age and accelerated by Covid-19.
Richard was born in Syracuse, N.Y. on July 30, 1932 to the late Carmen and Judith (DeRegis) Cappotto. He graduated from the city’s North High School in 1948 and began his studies in electrical engineering at age 16 at Syracuse University. Although he did not graduate, he pursued a long and varied career in related fields.
He was, for example, featured in Profitable Hobbies, a magazine published in Kansas City, for his skill at building crystal radios and even cabinet television sets. The issue contains a picture of him with his father, a master cabinet maker for Stickley, which produced many important American Arts and Crafts pieces. He built the cabinets that contained Richard’s electronics.
“I am looking at one of his radios right now that still works,” said Karen. Her father combined the aesthetics of woodworking with the emerging field of electronics, she said.
During his college years and for a time thereafter, Richard joined his father and brother at Stickley, honing his woodworking skills, which he used throughout his life to the benefit of family and friends. He also served eight years in the Naval Reserves, first as a radio operator and then in Naval Intelligence.
In 1956, he began a 36-year career in communications for New York Telephone, starting as an electrical engineering troubleshooter in the special switching department.
A couple of years later, he met Margaret “Peg” Sherlock, and, after a whirlwind romance, they married in 1959 in a double ceremony with her sister. Richard embraced Peg’s family’s Irish culture, adopting Ireland as his second home and teaching himself the guitar to facilitate sing-alongs and dancing. He loved visiting the extended Sherlock family in Tipperary, Clare, and Cavan on family vacations.
Richard and Peg bought a home in Eastwood, N.Y., where they raised four children. Richard remodeled each room and made custom furniture in his basement workshop. They were proud of creating a unique home where hospitality was the watchword and parties could develop spontaneously.
In 1991, Peg fell ill, and Richard retired to care for her. After her death in 1992, he decided to leave New York and relocate to Provincetown. He was drawn by the beach and the artistic community here. Richard shared a house with his artist daughter for the next 30 years. It was a new life for him, which he embraced.
One of his first projects was with Habitat for Humanity. He helped build a house in town in the late 1990s. He also hand-carved the letters “Homemade Ice Cream” for the Lewis Brothers shop in the center of town. Each year, the letters are taken down one by one and cleaned by hand.
He also made a cabinet for his barber, Joey, at the Monument Barber Shop.
He joined St. Mary of the Harbor Episcopal Church and the now-defunct Italian Club. After Karen told him about her four-month sojourn in Sicily, Richard reconnected with his Italian heritage, making his own trip to Sicily with his traveling companion and sometime girlfriend Diane.
An avid people watcher, Richard indulged in that activity from the benches on Commercial Street. “He really loved Provincetown,” Karen said. “And people loved him back.”
Surviving Richard are his four children: Karen of Provincetown; Kevin and wife Beth of Jacksonville, Fla.; Mary and husband Bob Boyle of Des Moines, Iowa; and David and wife Maral of Atlanta, Ga.; grandsons Aidan Boyle and Dylan Cappotto; niece Ann Higgins of Des Moines; and many other nieces and nephews in the U.S. and Ireland.
Richard was predeceased by Peg, his wife of 33 years, and by his brothers, Samuel and Joseph, and his sister, Anne Ventre.
Visiting hours will be held at Goddard-Crandall-Shepardson, 3111 James St., Syracuse, N.Y. on Thursday, Oct. 21 at 9 a.m., followed by a Funeral Mass at Blessed Sacrament Church, 3127 James St., Syracuse at 10:30 a.m. Burial will follow at St Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in DeWitt, N.Y.
Online condolences can be shared at shepardsonfh.com.