Webster Capps, materials engineer

Thursday, March 10, 2011; 6:31 PM

Webster Capps, 91, a native Washingtonian who worked for many years as an engineer with the National Bureau of Standards, died Feb. 16 at his home in Silver Spring. He had Alzheimer's disease.

Mr. Capps joined the Bureau of Standards - which became the National Institute of Standards and Technology - in 1951 and worked in the inorganic glass section of the Institute for Materials Research. He developed and tested materials for the military.

He received the Department of Commerce's Silver Medal Award for meritorious service in 1976.

After retiring in 1979, Mr. Capps moved from Darnestown to Maine, where he worked for a short time as a physicist for a private company performing tests for federal agencies. He later taught math and science at high schools in Portland, Maine, retiring in his 80s.

Webster Capps was born in Washington and graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School. In his teens, he marched with his Boy Scout troop in Franklin D. Roosevelt's second inaugural parade in 1937.

After graduating from Illinois College, Mr. Capps served in the Navy during World War II as a physicist and later as a communications officer aboard a ship in the Pacific.

He then entered Pennsylvania State University, where he received a second bachelor's degree in 1947 and, three years later, a master's degree in ceramics from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

He was a founding member of the Bethesda United Church of Christ and participated in programs of the American Field Service, hosting exchange students.

Mr. Capps, who learned to sail as a boy, enjoyed being on the water throughout his life. His other interests included birdwatching, building furniture and model ships, and collecting coins and stamps.

His wife of 61 years, Virginia Partridge Capps, died in 2005. Survivors include two children, Elizabeth Capps of Silver Spring and Webster David Capps of Maplewood, N.J.; and four grandchildren.

- Matt Schudel

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