In Memoriam — Steven Kapotas, Sr.
A memorial website has been set up for anyone wishing to share their memories of Steve or express their condolences.
LHA Loses a Great Friend
By James A. Dassatti, Executive Director LHA
A great friend, LHA Board Director, and past World War II Committee Chairman, Steve Kapotas, Sr., has finally succumbed to his five-plus year battle with cancer Monday, September 2nd. He was a loyal and dedicated reenactor who always stayed active in a love of history—attending the LHA’s 27th Annual International Time Line Event this past July 27th. (I don’t think ever he missed a single Time Line Event.) and even visiting with his friends in LHA’s Revolutionary War Dept. at the Bennington Battle Day Commemoration as late as August 17th.
The LHA became introduced to Steven Kapotas at its first Time Line Event in 1987 when he was with the 916th Grenadier Regiment under the command of Frank Sorrento. The 916th was an outstanding German World War II group, with many great props and interpretive scenarios that truly entertained and educated the public. The group was never at a loss for answering every question asked of it, even when approached by two Jewish concentration camp survivors who at first objected to their presence only to find that three members of the 916th were also Jewish. The group as a whole presented such a well-balanced picture of the conflict that even those people walked away with a new understanding of the issues and respect of the people who were involved in the conflict. The real lesson that was conveyed is that war is hell for everyone in it.
Steve rose to be an NCO and then an officer in the 916th until the group fractured from some internal politics as well as the sabbatical of its commander to pursue a new life as head of his own family. Steve then formed the 914th and it quickly became one of New England’s premier World War II organizations with all kinds of props from vehicles to portable guard houses, to all kinds of tents, weapons, and specialty gear and some 60 members. Steve also became active in creating LHA’s World War II Committee, where he operated several events around New England and helped to provide members and member involvement as well as financial support. His unit on occasion portrayed American soldiers and often assisted with events for World War II veterans. I myself often referred to him affectionately as the “circus master” because he always had so much going on.
Steve was a sensitive man with a quiet demeanor and he generally spoke with a soft but pointed intensity. He often looked for advice, but like many of us he loved the living history hobby so much that he often took on too much responsibility and was not very good at sharing it or delegating to others. If he had a fault it was that he cared too much and had difficulty allowing important hobby-related event and organizational responsibilities to fall on untested shoulders. We should all be so lucky to have such a thing as our only detraction, for too many times the hobby can be filled with all too much malice—and Steve Kapotas’ intentions never ran in that direction.
Steve was my friend, and I am very glad for it. He certainly was the LHA’s friend, as well as a friend to the hobby as a whole, and he allowed the hobby and the study of history to largely define who he was. It is difficult to fill the shoes of such a man because to do so you must be totally immersed in the hobby and many other people and things must become secondary—not out of dislike or love of other people or things outside the hobby, but rather because the largest definition of your entire personality has become one with the hobby. Perhaps when illness consumes such a person it is the reason that their retreat and comfort zone is best found deep within the hobby they love. It is where the best thoughts of going back to health and normalcy can be found with the hope for not only holding onto the hobby, but also all those other people and things that are loved outside of the hobby.
Someday we’ll see Steve again on the other side of the river of life, and like so many other times we’ll find him on a cold fall day, with trench coat collar pulled up high, standing next to a World War II vehicle with a hot drink in hand, and with a shiver saying, “God I love doing this!”