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99-year old says hard works leads to a long life

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SMITHFIELD — Milton Capps, or “Mr. Milt” as friends call him, said hard work is the secret of a long life. Capps turns 100 on June 10.

Capps said he never went to school and learned to plow with a mule when he was 8 years old.

He said he’s farmed, worked in construction, raised hogs and retired at age 80. He now resides at Smithfield Manor and Rehab.

“It’s the result of a lot of hard work,” said Capps. “I’ve never been without a job, there’s always been something waiting on me.”

One of Capps’ lifelong dreams is about to come true. He’s going to Yankee Stadium in June to see his beloved New York Yankees play.

When word got out that Capps wanted to see the Yankees, Smithfield Manor certified nursing assistant Donnie Wood launched an online crowdfunding campaign to finance Capps’ trip. His goal was to raise $3,000. In one month, 142 people contributed $4,030.

“My interest in the Yankees goes back to radio and the Game of the Week broadcast,” said Capps. “As I listened on the radio, I got to liking the Yankees.”

Capps said his idol was Yankees great Joe DiMaggio. While he’s seen the Yankees play twice, in Washington and Baltimore, he’s never been to Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees’ front office was called and the team sent Capps several club items and four tickets to the June 23 Old Timers’ Day.

Social worker Jodi Desimone said there was one possible hitch. Capps had never flown and, at age 99, he said he wasn’t about to get on an airplane.

“But when I told him that was best way to get to New York City, he said, ‘Well, I guess you do what you have to do,’” Desimone recalled.

Accompanying Capps will be longtime friend Billy Stephenson, 83, and Wood. It’s not been decided yet who gets the fourth ticket.

“Milt worked for us for 25 years at Spring Meadow Farms,” said Stephenson. “Milt was an instrumental member of our company for many years. He took my sons coon hunting at night and taught them the value of work. Milt is a wonderful human being in every respect. I can’t say enough about him.”

Stephenson said he’s never been a fan of anything except N.C. State but was aware of Capps’ love for baseball and the Yankees.

“Milt sometimes had difficulty reading the paper but he always knew what was going on in the Yankees organization,” said Stephenson. “I lost my father at a young age and Milt was always there, willing to be a listening post when I need one.”

Stephenson said the trip to New York with Milt to see the Yankees is indescribable.

“The opportunity to see Milt and be with him as he reaches this dream is something I have a hard time putting into words,” said Stephenson. “To see him reach this dream at the twilight of his life means a lot to me because I know him.”

All of the attention Capps has received about his trip to the Yankees means a lot to him, “said Stephenson.“He’s excited about the fact someone cares about him and wants to know about his life. He has a lot of friends and very little family. He’s a wonderful human being and part of America’s Greatest Generation.”