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Photos and Story by Breeana Greenberg
Fresh goat milk is one of the secrets to which 100-year-old Tony Cappa attributes his longevity.
Growing up in an Italian family, Cappa, along with his 101-year-old sister Elise Cappa Parslow, jokes their longevity must be the olive oil or the milk from the goats their father raised in the backyard.
Cappa, a Marine Corps veteran who served in World War II, celebrated his 100th birthday with family, friends and local dignitaries, who had gathered outside of his San Clemente home for a neighborhood parade on Monday, Feb. 7.
Dozens of motorists in classic cars, motorcycles and even a military Jeep paraded past Cappa’s home on Calle De Soto, while jubilant passengers held up signs to honor San Clemente’s newest centenarian.
While watching the parade, Cappa sat beside his sister, who said that she doesn’t have the answer to living a long and healthy life. Parslow and Cappa never really drank or smoked, she said, and thought maybe that was it.
Gushing over her brother on his birthday, Parslow added that Cappa makes friends everywhere he goes. He’s a gentleman, a great father, and a hard worker, Parslow said.
Representatives from the San Clemente City Council, Orange County Sheriff’s Department and Orange County Fire Authority also celebrated with Cappa, as Mayor Gene James and a deputy sheriff separately presented the veteran who fought on Iwo Jima with Challenge Coins.
“San Clemente is a Marine Corps town, it’s a military town, and we honor our veterans,” Mayor Pro Tem Chris Duncan said. “Tony is a perfect example of the legends that we have in town.”
Duncan added that Cappa’s strong personality and deep involvement in the community are reflected in the crowd that showed up to support him for his birthday.
“I couldn’t be happier and more grateful to be able to come here and honor Tony as he celebrates his 100th birthday,” Duncan said. “I told him, don’t go too crazy tonight.”
Over the years, Cappa has shared his love of classic music and classic cars with his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His great-grandson Gavin Cappa said one of his favorite moments of the two spending time together was when they went to a Los Angeles car show.
Cappa’s legacy has made a lasting impact on so many of his family members, including his son Steven Cappa.
“I’m just constantly reminded of the shoulders on which I stand and what a privilege it is to be a part of this family, carry that name and all of that,” Steven said. “It’s really a joy, and it’s an added joy to have the privilege of sitting and having coffee with him every morning.”
Steven and his wife, Patty Cappa, added that they enjoy listening to Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday as they drink their coffee with Tony each morning.
Music continues to be deeply important to the centenarian. Cappa served as the president of the Ukulele Strummers Club at OASIS Senior Center in Corona del Mar for 28 years. Though he stepped down in 2020, he continues to play with the group.
It’s that very appreciation for music that has been the key to living a long and healthy life—not the goat milk, as he had joked before. What’s truly important to Cappa is living with no stress and “keeping a song in your heart.”
Breeana Greenberg is the city reporter for the Dana Point Times. She graduated from Chapman University with a bachelor of arts degree in English. Before joining Picket Fence Media, she worked as a freelance reporter with the Laguna Beach Independent. Breeana can be reached by email at email@example.com