Saturday, August 16, 2008
I was visiting my sister and brother-in-law in Logan, Utah, several years ago when he was showing us family pictures of his childhood.
"And this was the Capp home we built and lived in," he said, pointing to a picture of his family home.
It was phenomenal to me to actually meet someone who'd lived in a Capp pre-built home. Because Marty Capp was a friend of ours.
Flashback to days just after World War II.
Martin Capp was a young man from Wabasha, Minnesota, who decided to build homes. He needed windows for those homes, and contacted a window company in Wausau, Wisconsin, to see if he could get them. The person he ended up talking to initially at the time was my husband's father, Thomas Riordan, of Chicago.
His first request to get windows was unsuccessful.
Some time later, my husband placed a call to Marty Capp. Montgomery Wards had refused a shipment of a carload of windows--did he want them?
Many years later, at Marty Capp's 80th birthday party, eighty people were flown in for a week of festivities in Las Vegas,and at the black tie gala night I heard Marty Capp tell this story, right after comedian Red Buttons entertained us. It was the finest tribute I'd ever heard anyone give my husband. At Marty's high school graduation, he said, he'd been in charge of getting the entertainment, and hired a palm reader. That palm reader apparently told his fortune, and everything that person told him has subsequently come true. Including, as he told it, that an angel would come into his life and change his life forever. "That angel was Larry Riordan."
That transaction started a business relationship that co-existed as a deep and powerful friendship lasting well over fifty years. Marty was my husband's best customer, and my husband helped Marty when he was first getting his start in the construction business. It is a mutual admiration society that runs silent and deep.
Marty became one of the most successful builders of pre-built homes, Capp Homes, and later Martin Homes, and went on to build a number of office buildings and hotels in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. Several years ago, he bought a winter home in Las Vegas, where he also continues to do business as a builder and developer, well into his nineties.
He owns two hotels in Minneapolis currently, including The Millennium Hotel on Nicolet, the former Capp Towers Hotel. Their philanthropic efforts in Minnesota and elsewhere are well known and have benefited many.
I've had some great times with Marty and his lovely wife Esther. Some of them I can't repeat (something about Jaguars heading for the Mexican border, and professional women in Vegas tapping the wrong man's shoulder comes to mind, but it's a blur). Whether we've seen them in the Twin Cities, or in Vegas, at weddings, bar mitzvahs, or in their kitchen, we've had enormous fun, and their friendship is treasured. They were among those most faithful, most salt of the earth, during our protracted ordeal at Mayo Clinic, and I will forever be indebted to them for that.
So if you pass a building in the Twin Cities that was built by Marty Capp, raise a glass to him for me. And remember, that behind every successful man, there is a woman as incredible as Esther Capp.