Scholarship Established in Memory of Lifetime Girl Scout

With a recent gift to The University of Southern Mississippi, Retired Lieutenant Colonel William R. “Corky” Capps (’52) and Mrs. Rachel Johnson Capps (MS, ’83) established the Jean Capps Girl Scout Scholarship Endowment in honor of the late Mrs. Jean Baldwin Capps.

Beginning as a grammar school Brownie and eventually becoming a troop leader at the University of South Carolina, Jean Capps excelled as a Girl Scout. Upon graduation from USC, she began a career at Tidewater Girl Scout Council, which continued for the rest of her life. During a leave of absence from scouting in which she was recreation supervisor, Special Services in Baumholder, Germany, she met and married then-Lieutenant Capps. During Corky’s Army career, Jean was on the executive staff of Girl Scout Councils of Virginia, Oklahoma, Texas and Tennessee. As a volunteer, she served Girl Scouts in eight states and three foreign countries.

Jean’s reputation preceded her in the many different locations that Corky’s assignments took them. The Girl Scouts always knew where Corky and Jean were going before they arrived and sought them out to take advantage of Jean’s talents. Her positions ranged from Brownie troop leader to vice president of the National Board of Girl Scouts of the U.S.

“Jean served Girl Scouts wherever his (Corky’s) assignments took them,” said Gwen Gollotte, a friend of Jean Capps. “Her goal was to enrich the lives of young girls wherever she lived.”

In London, Jean served on the Pax Lodge Committee, a Girl Scout Center, and she was the country commissioner of France for relations between American Girl Scouts and French Girl Guides. In Germany, she was named program chairman of the North Atlantic Girl Scout Council and coordinated the program for 20,000 girls in 13 European countries. She attended World Conferences in Kenya, Iran, France and the U.S. She also represented the United States at the 1968 European Conference on Guiding and represented the Girl Scouts at the 1976 White House Conference on Youth and Work. In 1972, she was invited to be member-at-large on the National Board of Girl Scouts.

Jean was also an active complement to Corky’s career. In Germany, she was vice president of the Officer’s Wives Club, and she arranged for the wife of the ambassador to Germany to come to remote Baumholder and speak at a club meeting. Jean was recognized as the Military Wife of the Year in 1971.

Upon Corky’s retirement from the Army in 1973, he and Jean returned to Tylertown, Miss., to maintain the family business: Capps Funeral Home. There, Jean joined the Gulf Pines Girl Scout Council while continuing to serve on the National Board for three consecutive terms in which she would become vice president and international commissioner. She was active in the Tylertown United Methodist Church as Worship Committee chair and in other civic activities, including the Performing Arts Committee and the Tylertown Library Board.

After 25 years in Tylertown, Corky, Jean and the business moved to join their son on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Jean continued her Girl Scout activities and church work at Trinity United Methodist Church. In November 2003, however, Jean passed away from injuries resulting from an automobile accident.

“Jean loved the Girl Scouts and lived its motto her entire life,” said Corky Capps. We created this endowment as a lasting memorial to her and her dedication to scouting. Additionally, it will provide an opportunity for a senior Girl Scout to earn a great education and ensure that another excellent student attends Southern Miss.”

The Jean Capps Girl Scout Scholarship Endowment will provide an annual scholarship at Southern Miss for an outstanding senior Girl Scout who is a resident of the former Gulf Pines Girl Scout area and has received the Gold Award – the highest award a Girl Scout senior or Girl Scout ambassador can earn. An initial $2,500 scholarship will be available for the 2011-12 academic year.

“This is a very special scholarship that honors and memorializes a very special woman,” said Bob Pierce, vice president for advancement and executive director of the USM Foundation. “What I like most about this particular scholarship is that a young woman must have already committed herself to a higher standard to be considered. I think it is wonderful that Corky Capps has elected to unite the Girl Scouts with Southern Miss in such a significant way.”

For more information on the Jean Capps Girl Scout Scholarship Endowment, contact the USM Foundation by calling 601.266.5210. Applications can be obtained by visiting the Gulf Pines Girl Scouts Council in Hattiesburg, Miss.

Photo caption: Jean Capps’ Girl Scout collectibles, including her lifetime Girl Scout membership card