'Joined Again': Capel, Gilmore Intersect Once More for Southern Pines
After Southern Pines Planning Board member Michael Martin read the resolution renaming a street Felton Capel Lane, Mayor David McNeill held up his hand and said with a smile, “Just a minute. Just a minute. We have to vote on this.”
Several chuckles rippled through the crowd gathered Tuesday at the monthly Town Council meeting.
Each council member then affirmed the honor before Capel chimed in.
“Aye,” the former councilman said, drawing laughter and a standing ovation.
The well-wishers on hand included his wife, Jean; two of his three sons; grandchildren and other family members; former mayors Jane Clark, Alex Bowness, Frank Quis and Mike Haney; and Jody Gilmore, widow of Voit Gilmore.
“Believe me, this is really one precious moment in my life,” said Capel, 85, who was elected to the council in 1959 and subsequently served as mayor pro tem.
Felton Capel Lane will run from Morganton Road to the roundabout behind Pinecrest High School and link with Voit Gilmore Lane over what is now a portion of South Knoll Road.
Capel, who is black, and Gilmore, who was white, are credited with quietly — almost unobtrusively — breaking the back of racial segregation in Southern Pines at a time when other states in the South were beset by racial violence that reached epidemic proportions.
In 1962, the highly successful businessmen and prominent civic and political leaders walked together to the first tee at Mid Pines and began a round of golf, into the whites-only section of the Sunrise Theater and watched a movie, and into a local bowling alley and bowled a game.
Jody Gilmore said the two roads merging at the roundabout represented “another special connection.”
“It means a lot because now they’re joined again,” she said. “It’s very nice for these people who have done so much for the community to be honored. I wish my husband were here to see this.”
Jean Capel said the honor was “really close to the top” among all of the accolades her husband had received over the years.
“It’s really amazing that they did this for him,” she said. “At this stage in our lives, it really means a lot.”
McNeill kicked off the festivities by calling Felton Capel “one of the pillars of our community.”
“Felton Capel is a big man whose gentle ways, combined with his efforts to do the right thing over his lifetime, have uplifted and inspired others,” McNeill said. “In addition to being both a role model and mentor to others, he is … a person whose leadership and service have led to a better Southern Pines and beyond.”
McNeill said the council initially struggled with an appropriate way to honor Capel.
“As you all know, he has received many civic, business and educational awards and recognitions,” McNeill said. “In fact, we asked ourselves, ‘How do you recognize someone of his distinction?’ Suddenly, you realize that by having a Felton Capel Lane, the citizens of Southern Pines are actually the beneficiaries.
“Think about all the (people) who will travel both Voit Gilmore Lane and Felton Capel Lane. Each day, their names will remind us to work to make things better for future generations.”
Council member Mike Fields, himself a former mayor, also presented Capel with a replica of the street sign that was erected Wednesday on both ends of Felton Capel Lane.
“I can’t easily be caught without having anything to say,” Capel said. “This is really wonderful. We love you so much and we sincerely appreciate you.
“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at (910) 693-2474 or email@example.com.
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