ORANGE PARK – CEO John Capes is retiring after 13 years. The former U.S. Marine-turned-soldier will step away to be succeeded by Helen Taylor in running Moosehaven Retirement Community.
Capes served 10 years in the Marines, Marine Corps Reserves, and then the Army, holding positions as an Artilleryman and a Signal Intelligence Analyst.
“Marines have an attitude, some of us have a bad attitude, but we all have an attitude where we’re gonna take the hill,” said Capes. “A never give up attitude.” That attitude, forged in the heat of boot camp on Parris Island, South Carolina, and in the Vietnam War, has served Capes well over the years.
After his time in uniform, Capes returned home to his native Illinois. He then used the Montgomery G.I. Bill and the Illinois Veterans’ scholarship to finance his education, earning degrees in psychology, philosophy, and chemistry from Rockford University.
Capes got a job in Michigan at a retirement community.
“I got my administrator’s license, my federal license to be a nursing home administrator, and just kind of moved from there,” Capes he said. “The CEO that hired me in Michigan moved to New Jersey and took me to New Jersey. Then I ended up back in Illinois, and then I ended up at Moosehaven.”
He resigned from his position in Illinois and then was contacted by a recruiter for a job at Moosehaven. At that moment, he wasn’t sure what Moosehaven was, although, “I should’ve known because my dad was a member of the Royal Order of Moose,” he said.
The recruiter reached out to him three times to try and recruit him for the job before he accepted the interview, all with no intention of taking the job. While waiting to be interviewed, he walked around the campus.
“I really wasn’t impressed,” he said. “I walked into a new home, and I liked how it looked. What it told me was that even though the campus was in pretty bad shape, the fraternity had not given up on it, and they were willing to spend money.”
He spoke to residents and the staff, and both were positive and happy. He eventually ended up with the job after being offered three times and has been there ever since – a stretch of 13 years.
Capes has done a lot over the years. What is he most proud of?
“I think the thing that I am most proud of is the fact that the young woman who resigned when she found out that they had hired a new CEO is that I called her back to work, and I was able to groom her, educate her, and bring her along so she would become the new CEO of Moosehaven,” he said. “I am extremely proud of that.”