Dennis Caponigro: 1956 - 1961
To say that alumnus, Dennis Caponigro has lived a pretty incredible life would be an understatement. The former WCBP lifeguard's story takes us from the beach on Columbine Rd. to the Main Line, to the Marine Corp, and eventually a life on the Left Coast.
What made you join the beach patrol?
From the time I was a few years old, we always spent the summer at Wildwood on Roberts Ave.
I learned to swim fairly well, and was a mascot for several lifeguards in the early 50s.
I decided to take the test at the Crest because my family preferred the quietness of the Crest community. We lived on Columbine Rd, just a block from the old Beach Tent.
I loved the ocean and the beach, doing something that helps people, and earning tuition for college, not to mention getting paid for the opportunity to sit on the beach all day long, and talk to the girls.
What are some of your best memories from your years with the WCBP?
Lifeguard's Ball, sitting on a stand on Big Beach, the Sun and Surf, and the people with whom I worked. Scoop Taylor, Joe Henry, Dick Sherry, Joe Daley, and Ox McComb were great sounding boards, and...good people.
Tell us about your life after the beach?
Graduated from Villanova University-Chemistry, tour in the Marine Corps, married a beautiful British lady Edith, and we have 2 wonderful boys, and 5 grandchildren.
In 1969 I was lured to California by a Silicon Valley company, Raychem Corporation a Fortune 500 high tech aerospace and military electronics company. Started in R&D, and the company encouraged and sponsored me to get an MBA...which I did from Pepperdine University in Malibu.
Progressed from purely technical positions to the business side, in various management positions, and ultimately Division Management.
I retired in 1999 after 29 wonderful years, and still live in the San Francisco Bay Area. We spend a lot of time in Carmel and Pebble Beach, and driving my Ferrari along the Pacific Coast Highway.
How has the beach patrol impacted your life?
Provided an opportunity to meet, and appreciate many different people, and gain an understanding of how to work together for the common good. The beach in those days was probably very different than today, but I would hope the feeling of being part of a family, and making a difference, is still there.
What advice would you give a young guard today?
Stay in school, stay curious, and always ask questions. This will serve you well for the future.
Ben Franklin once said "A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he learns something".