Lois Capps, 1964 M.A.R.

2004Distinction in Community Service

U.S. Representative Lois Capps from California's 23rd Congressional District was presented with the Alumni Award for Distinction in Community Service. A nurse by profession, Capps is the founder and co-chair of the House Nursing Caucus and also draws on her extensive healthcare background as co-chair of the Congressional Heart and Stroke Coalition, the House Cancer Caucus, the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus, the Congressional School Health and Safety Caucus, the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus, and the House Democratic Task Force on Health.

Capps was born in Ladysmith, WI in 1938. After graduating with honors from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing, she worked as a nursing instructor in Portland, OR. She earned a Master of Arts degree in Religion from Yale Divinity School in 1964 while working as head nurse at Yale-New Haven Hospital. She has received honorary doctorates from Pacific Lutheran University and Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary.

She was sworn in as a freshman member of the 105th Congress in1998, succeeding her late husband, Congressman Walter Capps, in California 's 22nd District. Since January 2003, she has served as representative of the newly drawn 23rd District.

Capps was unable to attend the banquet, as she was involved in an election-year debate in Santa Barbara. But in a letter read at the ceremony by presenter Javier Viera, '98 S.T.M., she said, "Growing up in a pasonage predisposed me toward a life of public service. And becoming a public health nurse allowed me to focus on my community, as did my long marriage to Walter, a Yale-trained professor of religious studies and my predecessor in Congress. What I didn't count on was the way my education here and my own life experiences would prepare me to be a U.S. Representative. I draw upon YDS resources every day."

In his own remarks, Viera called Capps "a voice of reason and passion in the U.S. Congress;" a staunch advocate for improved education, health and the environment; and one of "only a handful of" congressional leaders actively working for peace and reconciliation among Palestinians and Israelis.