Obituary of Colin Kapitan

Kapitan, Colin

After an evening of some of his favorite things: watching basketball, drinking beer, sharing stories and laughter with friends, Colin got into the back seat of his friend’s pickup for the ride home from Mitchell to Yankton.  With a smile on his face and gratitude for a day and evening well spent……anticipation for more of the same the next two days, Kappy closed his eyes and went to sleep for the last time.  A better ending to his life story would be hard to write, a few more chapters would have been preferred.

Colin was born on November 23, 1940, to Arnold and Marcella (Tehle) in Watertown, SD.  The family moved several times in his early years, settling in Yankton and calling it home.

Colin married Diane Vitek on June 13, 1961 and together they raised four daughters. They later divorced.

Colin was a 1958 graduate of Yankton High School.  His first profession was sports writer and sports editor for the Yankton Press & Dakotan.  He later used his writing talents working for The South Dakota Magazine and The Observer.  He next went into the grocery business with his father eventually becoming owner of Kapitan’s IGA.  As large supermarkets emerged as the new norm, Colin transitioned into his next profession as crop insurance adjuster.  Colin was long past retirement age, but retirement was not in his vocabulary.  He continued to work not because he had to but because he loved to.

Without a doubt the work he most enjoyed involved sports.  One of his first loves was baseball and he served as batboy for the Yankton Terry’s for several summers.  He began officiating at age 13 when his basketball coach cut him from the team and suggested he could make more of an impact in sports by becoming an official.  His involvement in athletics expanded to include numerous roles in assigning games, supervising and evaluating officials and mentoring and recruiting new officials.  His accomplishments, awards and achievements are too numerous to list.  Undoubtedly some of the proudest points in his career involved witnessing the advancement and success of new officials.  One avenue of doing this was through his commitment to his officiating camps.  His efforts in this area gave new meaning to the term “giving back.”

Colin loved track and field as well and worked in various capacities at many track meets, primarily as the official starter.

Colin was always ready to explore and travel, especially to places he’d never been.  He loved good food and trying new food.  He loved musicals.  “Hamilton” was his most recent one which he attended a few months ago while in Chicago to see a Notre Dame football game.  One of his favorites was “Margaritaville” which he saw in New York last March while there for the Big Ten Tournament. 

Always up for adventure, Colin couldn’t wait for his white water rafting trips with his buddies. Over the course of fifteen years, they found themselves fighting the rapids in Utah, Montana, Oregon, Colorado, Tennessee, West Virginia and Pennsylvania 

In 1968 Colin was instrumental in initiating two events which both hit a fifty year milestone this year. The H&K (Hod Nielsen was the H) Golf tournament.  An annual golf outing in June at the Glenridge Golf Course in Irene, SD, attended by sports writers, officials, athletic directors, coaches, etc.   In that same year Colin helped to establish a pinochle club.  Cards have been dealt twice a month ever since.  Instead of taking winnings home they stayed on the table.  When enough money was collected, a destination was selected, and a trip including spouses was taken. The group went to Nashville this fall.  Over the decades both events evolved with a natural and gradual change into less beer consumption and earlier ending times. 

Colin is survived by his four daughters and three grandsons:  Kathy Kapitan (Mark Walker) of Storm Lake, IA, Mary (Lee) Orth of Yankton, SD, Teresa (Doug) Brookbank of Hendersonville, NC and son, JD of Missoula, MT, Carolyn Kapitan (Scott Launier) of Orlando, FL, and their sons, Chas and Grayson; siblings Carla Tucker of Marion, IN, Eliot (Jackie) Kapitan of Springfield, IL,  Paula (Dave) Padrnos of Yuma, AZ and Clare Kapitan (Keith Schreiber) of Seattle, WA.

Colin was preceded in death by his parents and brother-in-law, Bob Tucker.   Most recently preceding Colin was Fran Collins who passed away this October.  Fran was his loving partner, friend and companion for many years. 

Colin’s smile and laugh were infectious.  He loved people.  He loved life.  He lived life wide open.  Mostly he loved his four daughters and three grandsons.  He made annual visits to IA, SC and FL to visit them along with many side trips to share in their lives every chance he could.  He was so proud of all they accomplished and who they turned out to be.  He left a legacy to them not only as a legendary sports figure in the state of South Dakota but of a father and grandfather whose love had no end. 

Donations in his memory may be directed to the YHS Booster Club, P. O. Box 251, Yankton, SD  57078; Mount Marty College, Endowment Fund, 1105 W. 8th Street, Yankton, SD  57078 or Yankton Baseball Association. 407 E. 19th St., Yankton, SD  57078.