March 23, 2021
David James Caples, 74, of Fernandina Beach, Florida passed away on Saturday, March 20th, 2021 at Osprey Village Retreat.
Born in Rochester, New York to a loving family, David was raised by his mother after his father was lost at sea in a WW2 bomber. Being only five at the time, David took up the responsibility of being the man of the house, even showing up for the first day of grade school with an adult-sized briefcase. Something he would carry with him the rest of his life.
After completing his undergraduate degree at Canisius College David worked for Rochester Telephone and also had a brief stint as an ad man. He later went on to earn his master’s degree in Hotel Management at Cornell University.
In a particularly bad Rochester winter in 1979, David and his wife Susan hopped in their ‘71 burnt-orange Porsche 914 and headed south on a road trip that would change their lives forever. After driving all the way to Key West they turned around to head back north. However, just before crossing into Georgia, David spotted a sign for a hotel that he’d heard of. On a whim they took that exit and found themselves on a pristine, wooded Amelia Island. They were hooked.
Together, David and Susan moved to Fernandina Beach. David was able to realize his dream of earning his pilot’s license as well as creating his and Susan’s first inn, The 1735 House. They followed up a few years later with the Elizabeth Pointe Lodge, which would become an official point on coastal navigation maps as well as a beacon of service and hospitality. Under their stewardship, it was named the second best hotel in America by Conde Nast Traveller.
The island and its community immediately made an imprint on David and he would spend his life leaving his own imprint on the island. David served on the boards of the Amelia Island YMCA, the Fernandina Beach Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club, SKAL, the Brady Point Preserve, the Quarterback Club as well as Tourist Development Council. He was also a founding member of the Florida Bed-and-Breakfast Association.
Closest to his heart, however, may have been in co-founding the Katie Caples Foundation and the Katie Ride for Life after the loss of his eldest daughter. It was through this that he and his wife Susan were able to spread community awareness of organ donation across the country while raising money and saving lives all while helping to destigmatize a life-saving procedure.
Today, Amelia Island is far different than when that little orange Porsche turned down the road, and nearly everywhere you look you can see David’s spirit and influence. Both in the people and community as well as what the island has become.
David is survived by his wife Susan; his daughter Elizabeth and her husband William; his son Christopher and his two granddaughters Katie and Ella as well as his brother, Tom and his two labs, Scout and Pilot.
There will be a viewing held on Thursday, March 25th, 2021 from 5 pm to 7 pm at Oxley-Heard Funeral Home. The funeral will be held at 11 am on Friday, March 26th at St. Michael’s Church. A reception will follow from 12:30 to 2:30 at The Golf Club of Amelia Island located at 4700 Amelia Island Pkwy.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Katie Caples Foundation at www.katiecaples.org where educational scholarships will continue to be made for years to come. You may also donate to the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign, a program that David was extremely passionate about.
David will be laid to rest at his family lake house in North Carolina where he loved to spend his summers sailing.