Man's staggering collection honors his life of work

Man's staggering collection honors his life of work

A lot of people love their jobs, but it's safe to say one local man is downright obsessed.

“If there’s any such thing as loving a company, I guess I loved it,” Don Capehart said.

Capehart’s infatuation was born in 1961 when he left life on the farm for a job with Western Electric. For more than 100 years, Western Electric was a pioneer in the communications world, paving the way for much of our modern technology.

Don says it was one of the greatest companies in American history. So when AT&T took over and pulled the plug, Don wasn’t ready for Western Electric’s legacy to fade into history.

Which is why he’s spent the past 28 years preserving it.

“I took my retirement [money] and this is where it went,” he said.

Since retiring in 1989, Don has spent nearly every penny to his name building the Capehart Collection in Corsicana, the world’s largest collection of communication equipment. And it is astounding.

From the first time movies had sound to the battlefield in Vietnam. From an old switchboard to a phone for potty mouths (it’s a phone shaped like a toilet). In all, Don has more than 200,000 items.

“I thought the world needed to remember what Western Electric provided to our nation as a company," he said.

Don says this much history belongs in the Smithsonian. In fact, he actually tried to give it to them.

“They told me to box it up and bring it to ‘em,” Don exclaimed.

He realizes he won’t be able to do this forever, which is why he’s made the tough decision to sell it. He hopes it will end up in a bigger city for more people to see. But his greatest desire is that it might spark the same love he’s had for more than 50 years.

“Some kid in the future may become a scientist because of something they saw here,” Don said. “And he may want to advance his life and our nation.”

And start a whole new collection of memories.

If you’d like to visit the Capehart Collection, you must schedule an appointment in advance by calling (903) 872-0440 or visit this website.

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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