Lucille “Lu” Capra

9/16/1937 – 6/2/2021

Lucille “Lu” Capra was a true pioneer. Armed with a humble spirit, an educated brain, and a huge heart, Lu blazed a trail for the past 83 years that was extraordinary. Educated at Pomona College and Harvard, Lu was an educator by profession who used her generous and kind spirit to influence anyone she met.  Falling in love and creating a family steered Lu’s journey from California to Michigan, with adventurous stops along the way. After a divorce and her daughter’s death, Lu’s journey would have ended for most, but she persevered. Raising five children in the ’70s as a single mother was not easy or familiar at that time. Still, Lu excelled through adversity to create a home full of acceptance, love, kindness, and generosity. A hard-working, single mother, Lu completed her Ph.D. at Michigan State University while never missing her children’s sporting events, concerts, or birthday parties.  For Lu, family always came first, including anyone who needed a family or community. It wasn’t uncommon for Lu to have extra seats at the table, and her home was a welcome and frequent respite for many who needed a kind, encouraging word. Lu’s spirit of generosity extended well beyond her home, as she volunteered her time and service to so many during her lifetime. With her children grown, Lu’s journey took her to the University of Findlay, where she led the department on life-long learning. Providing educational opportunities and respect to incarcerated students and teaching literature and writing were highlights of her career.

Lu lived in “God’s Country” on the Leelanau Peninsula on South Lime Lake for the past three decades. After many memorable vacations in the area, Lu decided to build an incredible home surrounded by beautiful scenery, amazing friends, and most importantly, her family. Here, she fostered her passion for dog training while extending her family once again with many new friends and like-minded people. Lu’s years in Cedar included laughter, learning, teaching, reading, writing, concerts, pontoon boat riding, brown-bag lunching, dog shows, rooting on her Spartans and Tigers, and filling her home with her family and friends.

It’s not possible to list the number of people that Lu’s extraordinary life touched. Her family, friends, former students, Hospice caregivers, and anyone else who met her would agree that having a conversation with Lu improved their lives. Yet even in her passing, Lu’s generous spirit and infectious smile, and positive attitude continue.

Lu is survived by her children: Maria Capra (Scott), Claire Capra Sleep (Mike), Theresa Capra-Roberts (Tom), Jack Capra (Sandi), and Jennifer Capra Smith (David), ten special grandchildren, her brother, and many nieces and nephews.  Preceding her in death were her husband, Bill, daughter Margaret Ilene, brothers John and Frank, and her parents Frank and Lucille Capra. To honor Lu, please consider extending Lu’s generous spirit by giving to the Leelanau Conservancy and Hospice of Lansing Stoneleigh Residence.  In place of a formal service, Lu’s desire was to be honored privately by her children.

Arrangements are by the Estes-Leadley Greater Lansing Chapel. Online condolences may be left for her family at

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31 Messages to “Lucille “Lu” Capra

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Laura and Jeff Hauenstein
June 3, 2021 at 4:13 pm

With much love for your Mom. She was an incredible inspiration and a true friend.Thank you for sharing your Mom with us. Prying for peace,strength and comfort.

Bradley Axelrod
June 3, 2021 at 7:51 pm

I so very much enjoyed getting to know her, and visit with her near her home near Lime Lake. She was a wonderful woman whose memory will be a blessing to all who had the pleasure to know her.

Chatty Collier
June 3, 2021 at 7:54 pm

Lu and I met in the 7th grade of school. We remained good friends and rode our horses together. I visited her in Cedar in the last few years. (Her father directed my father in 2 movies.). I love her!!!

Judy McCrory
June 3, 2021 at 8:04 pm

She was a great woman. She took a young rookie at teaching in the prison and me more relaxed there. She was an excellent role model.

Christine Colquitt Thacker
June 3, 2021 at 8:38 pm

My deepest condolences at the loss of such a great lady. She was one in a million.,

Linda Echt
June 3, 2021 at 9:01 pm

Lu was one of a kind. Just a beautiful loving person. I am deeply saddened to hear that she has died. Maria, Claire, Theresa, Jack and Jennifer, I am thinking about each of you. Picturing you in your EL home that was so full of life, laughter and fun.

Brian and Laurie Ward
June 3, 2021 at 9:25 pm

Maria and Claire (and family) – we are so sorry to hear of the loss of your mother. I believe we met her twice and the words of her obituary were so true and very beautifully written. She was a very kind and passionate person opening her beautiful home to many. May you both have such wonderful memories of her. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

Tammy Meeker
June 3, 2021 at 9:45 pm

Lu was kind and generous to a fault. Some of my best memories from college were with Theresa and Lu in her home where Theresa’s friends were always welcome; for a day, a night, or a week at a time. I was blessed to spend some family vacations at Glen Lake with them. That’s the kind of person Lu was…” going on vacation..why don’t you come along?” I hadn’t had the pleasure of seeing Lu in quite a few years but we exchanged kind words and “likes” through Facebook and I always still felt close. What an admirable, humble and kind person she was. I am also sure there was quite an awesome group of dogs wagging their tails eagerly when she showed up at Heaven’s gates to greet her. Love and prayers to the whole family..she made this world a better place!

Kim Mahrt Yeh
June 4, 2021 at 12:36 am

So sad to read of the passing of Claire’s mom, Lu. I have many sweet and fond memories of a busy, loving household where it was always fun to visit and be a part of. I remember always being welcomed. In the ‘70’s in East Lansing, Michigan it wasn’t everyday you got to witness a single mom raising 5 kids but she did it well and with much love. I remember when my parents got divorced she came over to talk to my mom, a very kind gesture, she was extremely supportive & caring, and I know my mom appreciated it. This is just another small example of the kind of person she was. My thoughts are with you. Hugs and prayers to you all!

Love. Kim Mahrt Yeh

Pam Miklavcic
June 4, 2021 at 12:45 am

My sincerest condolences to all. I know how central Lu was to your entire family—and always enjoyed hearing stories about her from Claire. May your years of memories comfort you.

CaroleElchert & PhilipSugden
June 4, 2021 at 1:36 am

Lu was a friend whose door was open and smile ready to take the pressure off any troubling brew. I remember her as a model professor and administrator and mentor to many at the University of Findlay. Grace to us all and therefore unforgettable. Embracing thoughts to family.

Tammy Royston
June 4, 2021 at 8:34 am

Lu was an amazing woman that I feel blessed to have known when I met Maria and Claire in college. I remember many times visiting her home in East Lansing while heading to our famous Chi Chi dinners. I am so glad we visited last summer with her, she always made me feel like a part of the family.


Ken and Tammy Royston

Barbara and John Peters
June 4, 2021 at 10:29 am

Lu was a special person. We’ve known her for 20+ years and did dog events with her in the Grand Traverse Kennel Club. She taught me many good exercises for my dogs in obedience. She always had a smile and we will miss her. Our condolences go out to her family.

Jay kershner
June 4, 2021 at 12:26 pm

I met Lu and T in 1985 when I began classes at Findlay College. She was instrumental at preparing me and guiding me through my college career. She let me watch her house and take care of her dogs while out of town. I felt like a family member through the years and will forever hold those memories close. Heaven truly has a new angel and her name is Lu. Rest In Peace dear friend.

Sheri Sleep
June 4, 2021 at 3:46 pm

Claire and family,
So sorry to hear of your mother’s passing. I didn’t know Lu but Claire you are part of my family and you always have had nothing but high regard when speaking of your mom and she sounds like a wonderful woman. I am sorry for your loss and I pray for peace in your time of sadness.
Love you Claire,

Jan Kasuba Walton
June 4, 2021 at 5:36 pm

I’ll never forget Lu’s kind heart and her love for learning. I watched you kids for a couple years when your mom went to night class at MSU. She’d come home and talk about her classes and her zeal made her glow. She truely was a giving person and I have very fond memories of her and each one of her children. My prayers are with you all during this difficult time and I ask the Lord to give you peace.

T Capra-Roberts
June 5, 2021 at 9:04 am

Hello Jan,
Thank you for the kind words…the five of us often reminisce about those times….you babysitting for us was always such a blast! We couldn’t wait to learn what culinary adventure awaited us when you came over!!

Janet Grimm
June 4, 2021 at 6:42 pm

Maria and Claire.
Lu was a sweet, kind, generous, funny and lovely mom, and friend to many. I’m so glad I was able to meet her, and spend time at her Lime Lk home. She will be deeply missed by all who knew her. Hugs. Janet

Susan Psychas
June 4, 2021 at 9:22 pm

Claire and Mike, my heart hurts for you at this time. I know how much your mom meant to you. I’m so very sorry for your loss.

Anna Schloff
June 4, 2021 at 9:52 pm

My condolences to all of Lu’s family. There are no words to describe what a great woman Lu was and how I respected and liked I will miss all the wonderful times I shared with her every time I went to Traverse City

Sigi b
June 5, 2021 at 12:04 pm

To Maria, Claire,Theresa, Jenni, and Jack … my deepest sympathy to you all for the loss of your sweet mother. I too feel her absence here ever so far way. She was a light in my life, an ever present influence, with an amazing sense of humor and a storyteller like ton other. How lucky you were to find each other in this wide Universe. The only currency that permeates all boundaries is the love that you share …. may you be comforted knowing that she’ll never leave you – not now, or ever. And to that, I add my own love to you all

Rick and Barbara Gebhardt
June 5, 2021 at 3:08 pm

We were surprised and saddened to see Lu’s photo—with a loved dog by her lake—at the top of the Findlay Courier obituary page Saturday morning. The memorial triggered our memories of her work at Findlay College, the kids she was so proud of, and the lovely lakeside home she built for retirement in Michigan. Rick has always thought of Lu as one of the best hires he made as humanities chair and one of the most creative faculty he had the pleasure to work with as her career expanded from English teacher, to humanities chair and lifelong learning director. Lu impacted the lives of those who met her and was a good and generous friend. We know she will be warmly remembered for years to come.

Suzanne Dalton & Clyde Foles
June 5, 2021 at 4:48 pm

Dear Maria, Claire, and Theresa, We are so very sorry for your loss. Your mom was such a kind and generous person I had the pleasure to call a dog buddy. We were so pleased to see each other again when she came to my Author Talk at the public library in Benzonia. The turning point in our relationship came when I complimented her on the one crucial thing she could bring into the obedience ring, “Nothing is allowed in the ring!” She protested. “Your smile!” And what a superb treat it was for her beloved labradors. We shared so many fun times with her and your incredible family. It was a pleasure knowing you all and creating the memories that we cherish. With much love, Suzanne & Clyde

Denise Bunge
June 5, 2021 at 5:03 pm

Lu made such an impression on me at FC/UF that my family still raises a glass to her every year. She certainly made my world a better place, and she will continue to be celebrated for years to come.

June 5, 2021 at 6:10 pm

Dear Maria, Claire, Theresa, Jack, and Jennifer,
When I read of your Mom (Lu) being called from her time on earth to Heaven I immediately knew she went directly to Heaven. She was the kindest, most thoughtful, giving and generous friend I have ever known. It immediately brought to mind so many wonderful fun times Bob and I had with your family and while she was at the University of Findlay. I could write a book on the many special celebrations we had in Findlay and at Lime Lake. I could go on and on but I will save that for another time. Lu will always be in my heart and prayers.
Thanks Lu and family for all the fond memories. Rest in Peace Lu.
Donna Ewald and Family

Carolyn Taketa & family
June 6, 2021 at 1:14 am

Dear Jenny, Dave, Karagan, Sinclair, Simon, and Lu’s family,

We are so sorry for your loss. Your mom and grandma was a remarkable woman; kind, smart, fun and so welcoming. I had the joy of hanging out with Lu over the years when she visited Jenny in California and when we found out we were both Sagehens (Pomona College alums), we became fast friends. We would “chirp chirp” when we saw each other! 🙂

Lu had such a zest for life and adored you all, her family, particularly her grandchildren. She would come to the Tae Kwon Do studio where Sinclair, Simon and my daughters trained and watch for hours… though it was not super interesting. She was curious, asked great questions, and listened attentively, even to the kids. She knew how to be be present with people – what a gift! Though we only interacted via Facebook in recent years, I loved seeing Lu’s comments – always encouraging, cheering, and sometimes funny. Lu made me and the people around her feel like they mattered and that is a beautiful legacy I see in you her children and grandchildren. May she rest in peace and may God comfort your hearts.

We love you,
Carolyn, Donn, Emily & Sarah

June 6, 2021 at 1:19 am

Not only was your mom a student of my dad’s, she was one of my very first babysitters after I was born in ’55. We remained close throughout both of our lives, strengthened through visits to El Centro (God it was hot!), East Lansing, and of course Lime Lake, not to mention our “field trips” with the 5 of you to Macinac Island, Chicago and elsewhere. Your mom was an emotional support to me through some very difficult years. I shall miss her terribly but I’m so glad I got to see her a few summers ago when we had lunch at the Cherry Hut!

Sally Cole
June 6, 2021 at 9:34 am

Russ and I met your dear mom in the early 2000’s when Ranger entered the agility courses. By far, one of the nicest “dog” folk I knew. Sincere sympathy to all. The above photo with one of her treasured labs is touching, a beautifully written obituary.

Sally Cole
June 6, 2021 at 11:45 am

Russ and I met your dear mom in the early 2000’s as Ranger began his agility world. Never will I forget how always kind/helpful she was in the obedience era @ Pine Meadows Dog Training Center. God bless her special soul.
Traverse City, MI

Lou’s Blackburn
June 11, 2021 at 9:19 pm

I will miss her bright smile and wonderful laugh. She was such a dear friend. Best to all of you.
Love Lois

Suzan Svec
June 13, 2021 at 9:31 pm

I am so sorry to hear about Lu’s passing. We met her through the Grand Traverse Kennel Club. She was such a sweet lady. She loved watching youth show their dogs. She showed cheered the for youth and always had a todbitnto share with them. She was more than willing to judge the 4-H shows and never showed favoritism in the ring, if anything she was harder on the ones she knew but she was always fair. We really miss her and her beautiful smile.


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