It’s difficult to imagine a family more steeped in Aggie history than that of Picnic Day marshal Dick McCapes, a professor emeritus of veterinary medicine, who also will be representing his late wife of 56 years, Marilyn, who died in 2012.
Dick McCapes earned his bachelor’s degree in veterinary science and honors in military science in 1956. A member of Sigma Nu fraternity, Alpha Zeta and Blue Key, he graduated from the School of Veterinary Medicine two years later.
Marilyn (Slater) McCapes graduated from UCD in 1955. As an undergraduate, she served as Picnic Day secretary in 1953 and director of reception in 1954. A cheerleader and member of both the Rally Committee and Cal Club, she was a Homecoming princess in 1952, 1953 and 1955.
In 1952, the couple met on campus. Three years later, they exchanged vows.
The McCapeses returned to Davis in 1970, when Dick accepted a position as a vet school administrator and faculty member. He served as associated dean of public programs for the next decade. In 1988, he was named chair of the department of epidemiology and preventive medicine. He retired in 1994.
He also has been a Cal Aggie Alumni Association board member.
Dick and Marilyn, who jointly served as president of the University Farm Circle in 1977-78, were longtime supporters of Shields Library, intercollegiate athletics and the UCD Men’s Rugby Club.
Marilyn managed the operation of the family’s Clarksburg farm, including the addition of grape production in her later years. She died at age 78, having raised five children and, in turn, nine grandchildren. She also served as president of the University Farm Circle and Prytanean, vice president of the California Veterinary Medicine Association Auxiliary and adviser to the auxiliary to the student chapter of the American Veterinary Medicine Association at UCD.
The McCapeses had particularly deep ties to rugby on campus. When UCD was still the University Farm, as part of UC Berkeley, Marilyn’s father Colby E. “Babe” Slater was a student from 1914 to 1917, where he served as junior class president (1915), Picnic Day parade chairman (1916) and general chairman (1917). He also was the house manager for Calpha (now Phi Delta Theta) in 1916 and 1917.
Babe played football, baseball and captained the basketball team. He went on to play for the gold medal United States rugby team in the 1920 and 1924 Olympics, the last year the sport was part of the games (it is scheduled to be reinstated in 2016). He was the first inductee into the Cal Aggie Athletic Hall of Fame. Each year, the university honors its top male athlete with an award that carries his name.
In 2003, Marilyn gave her father’s gold medals to UCD to be displayed in perpetuity in the Cal Aggie Athletic Hall of Fame and his other sports, Olympic and personal memorabilia to Shields Library.
Marilyn’s aunt, Marguerite, was also one of the first three women to enroll at the University Farm, in 1914.