Remembering Harold Capello
It is said that former Donaldsonville mayor, Harold Ernest "Smiley" Capello, never met a stranger and spent his life giving back. The late Capello, who served as Mayor of Donaldsonville from 1997 to 2001 and as a city councilman for District III from 1981 to 1985, passed away on Sept. 23 in Donaldsonville at age of 79.
A life-long resident of Donaldsonville, he was a graduate of Donaldsonville High School where he participated in athletics. He was recognized as an All-District end on his High School's 1954 Class B, State Championship Football Team. He was a member of Delta Eta Sigma Honor Fraternity and was senior class president. He graduated with honors on May 27, 1955, receiving the American Legion Medal. He later joined the Army.
Capello dedicated much of life to the city and served it in many capacities. He was a former Coach of CYO Basketball and Dixie Youth Baseball. He served on the following Boards: Past Chairman of the Heart Fund Drive for West Ascension Parish, Ascension Parish Council on Aging, Council on Aging Agency, Ascension Parish Mental Health, and the Region II Mental Health Board for 12 years, 10 as Chairman, the State Mental Health Advisory Board, State Mental Health Task Force, the Ascension Parish Alcohol and Drug Abuse Board and the Mental Health Association of Greater Baton Rouge Board. He was a member of the Donaldsonville Rotary Club and was an active member of the American Legion. He was King Industro VI in the Donaldsonville Dixie Carnival Club's Mardi Gras Parade. He was also selected as the Donaldsonville Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year in 1991. In 1997, he was commissioned as Commissioner of the Capital Region Planning Commission representing the City of Donaldsonville. That same year, he received an Award of Merit from Victims and Citizens against Crime for his dedication to the Citizens of Louisiana and his outstanding service in working with crime victims.
"I was on the council when Harold Capello was mayor," said Mayor Leroy Sullivan. "Harold, he did a lot, his heart was definitely in the City and trying to make the City of Donaldsonville better. It was very hurting to find out that he had passed away. When you think of Harold Capello and the mayor position, you think of someone that really had the city's best interest in heart."
Perhaps, though, according toDonaldsonville Fire Chief Chuck Montero, one of Capello's biggest legacies was the annual Senior Christmas Party the he and his wife started. It became so big that the Rotary had to take it over. He sponsored the party for over20 years and was affectionately known as the Senior Citizen's Santa Claus. He also hosted and participated in numerous blood drives for those in need.
In death, his wishes were to continue giving to those in need, by donating his body to the L.S.U. School of Medicine through the Bureau of Anatomical Services.
Brandie Richardson contributed to this report.