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No one who studies American biography as it relates to the successful business and professional men of both races, can fail to be impressed with the large number of those men, who have had to fight their way up from the humblest beginnings. One of these is Dr. William Garfield Capel, the only Negro dentist at Beckley, W. Va.

Dr. Capel is a native of the Old North State, having first seen light in Richmond County, N. C., on December 20, 1887. His father was H. Capel, his mother Nora Capel. In the absence of written records he knows but little of his earlier ancestors, but there is a tradition in the family that his great grandmother purchased her freedom and that of the family.

As a boy young Capel was taught by Rev. and Mrs. J. H. Clement at Rockingham, N. C., and passed from there to Biddle, now John C. Smith University at Charlotte, for his preparatory and college work. He won his A. B. degree at Biddle in 1907, and went to what was then the Starling Ohio Medical College, now Ohio State, for his course in dentistry and won his D.D.S. degree in 1912.

While he was under the necessity of making his own way and worked during each vacation, yet he made friends who encouraged and helped him. He remembers with peculiar gratitude the assistance given him by Mrs. J. M. Covington, a white friend of his home town.

In 1912 he began the practice at Huntington, W. Va., where he resided for two years. In 1917 he went further up into the coal fields and practiced at Omar for two years, till 1920, when he removed to Beckley, where he has since resided, and has built up a practice of which a much older man might well be proud. He has purchased property at Beckley.

On June 30, 1915, Dr. Capel was happily married to Miss Emma Bessie Wyche of N. C., who was, before her marriage, a successful teacher. They have two children Marinol Wyche and W. G. Capel, Jr.

While in schools, and since, Dr. Capel has been active in athletics including football, baseball and tennis. While at Huntington he coached the Douglas High School team which won the West Virginia Championship.

His work in the pullman service carried him to every part of the U. S., into Canada and also into Mexico. He found this a helpful, liberalizing experience, and this work was done during his vacation periods while in college. Dr. Capel belongs to the W. Va. State Medical and Dental Society, the Interstate, Northern Ohio Dental Association and the National Medical Society. He holds membership in the Masons and the Pythians and also the Alpha Phi Alpha Greek letter fraternity. In politics he votes for the men and women who stand for the principles and issues which he favors, and cares little for party labels. He stood the regular army examination during the war and was commissioned First Lieut. in the M. R. C., but was not called into the service. Speaking of the progress of his people, he says, "What we most need is truly educated leaders who will not sell the race for money; practical education; teaching them the principles of democracy, self respect and a love for colored people."

History of the American Negro Index

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West Virginia Archives and History