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Kenneth L. Cappelletty(1940-2013)

(NEWS ARTICLE) Businessman Ken Cappelletty, whose life's mission involved working for social justice causes and operating Ken's Flower Shops for some 45 years, died Friday at Hospice of Northwest Ohio in Perrysburg.

Mr. Cappelletty, 72, who had been ill for more than a year, died from congestive heart failure and related complications, his family said.

As an ordained deacon in the Catholic Church, he was involved in numerous ministries in addition to interfaith organizations, including some such as the Catholic/?Muslim Interfaith Collaborative that he helped found.

He was born on July 23, 1940, and graduated from Blessed Sacrament grade school. He was a member of the inaugural graduating class of St. Francis de Sales High School in 1958.

He attended the University of Toledo, but never graduated. In the early 1960s, he moved to the Los Angeles area, where he found work in a flower shop, his son Mark said.

After a year, he moved back to Toledo, having found his calling, and opened a cut flower shop on Dorr Street in 1965.

Two years later, Fred Moor joined Mr. Cappelletty and eventually became his partner and co-owner.

Together they grew the business into a six-store enterprise, including an outlet in Ann Arbor, as well as a restaurant that was attached to the Perrysburg store, and a furniture store, his business partner said.

The restaurant and furniture store have since closed.

The restaurant, which began as the Conservatory, opened in 1989 as an extension of the flower shop in Perrysburg's Country Charm Shopping Center. The Conservatory was later turned into Cappelletty's, a pizza place.

At one point, Ken's Flowers had 140 employees, Mr. Moor said. It now has three stores in Perrysburg and Toledo.

Mr. Cappelletty's involvement with the business tapered off in October, 2011, because of illness, his business partner said.

Mr. Moor began working for Mr. Cappelletty in 1967 as a 20-year-old delivery driver. After a stint in the Army, Mr. Moor returned to Ken's and became a partner.

"It's been more of a friendship than anything else," said Mr. Moor, who has been intricately involved with Mr. Cappelletty in causes that included anti-war protests, a prison ministry, protests against the death penalty, and working with underprivileged children in the area.

"We both fought along the same lines for social justice ... very liberal causes," Mr. Moor said. "His heart was strong in all of those causes."

In a 2003 interview, Mr. Cappelletty credited the success of Ken's Flower Shops to his friendship with Mr. Moor.

"We've had a terrific working relationship and friendship together. A lot of friendships don't last this long," he said at the time.

Mr. Cappelletty and Mr. Moor were on the front lines of protests against war, especially the first Gulf War in 1990, and against the use of nuclear weapons.

"He felt very strongly that people can do better than going to war. People have to find a better way," Mr. Moor said.

In 2000, the two founded a prison ministry and began securing scholarship money for families of murder victims, he said.

"I think his ministry was very important to Ken, although his favorite was working with young couples and marriage counseling," Mr. Moor said.

The two began working in the Perrysburg Heights area south of the city, an area marked by poverty and run-down properties at the time.

Mrs. Cappelletty said her husband and Mr. Moor opened a gym for the youngsters and began a tutoring program to assist children who were struggling in school. Those projects continue, but under the direction of others, she said.

Mr. Cappelletty briefly attended an out-of-state seminary, but left after about a month, Mr. Moor said. His son Mark said Mr. Cappelletty got homesick and decided to leave

"He was a bit embarrassed by that," Mr. Moor said of his brief flirtation with becoming a priest.

The idea of ministry remained with him, his family said and in 1990, he was ordained a permanent deacon, attached to St. Rose Catholic Church, his parish in Perrysburg.

Deacons can baptize, perform funeral and burial services, and witness marriages, which he did for both sons.

He married his son, Dave to Kelly, in a ceremony in Cincinnati in 2003.

In May, 2011, despite his illness, he flew to California to marry his son Mark to Jennifer.

Mark said his father became a changed man after his ordination as a deacon. The stresses of his life appeared to be gone, and a renewed focus on helping others blossomed, he said.

"It was like a weight was lifted off his shoulders," mark said. "He was much more at peace with himself."

His son Dave said his father's participation in his marriage "was an honor" but also a bit of a conflict.

"I wanted my father to be my father and to sit with my Mom during the ceremony, but to come up and perform the ceremony," he recalled. "It's one of the neat things I will always recall."

The Rev. Charles Singler, an assistant pastor at St. Rose at the time, went to Cincinnati to help officiate.

As a deacon, Mr. Cappelletty also baptized Dave's two children.

Mr. Cappelletty married the former Catherine Link in 1967. The couple recently celebrated their 45th anniversary.

Cathy Cappelletty said her husband had an easy, but hearty laugh and a good story for anyone in earshot.

"He could be the life of a party," she said.

Mr. Cappelletty is survived by his wife, Cathy; sons, Mark and David; two grandchildren; brothers, Rich, Terry, and Chris, and a sister, Joyce.

Visitation will be from 2 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Witzler-Shank Funeral Home, Perrysburg, where a vigil service will be at 7 p.m.

Prayers will be recited at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at the funeral home, followed by a funeral Mass at St. Rose Catholic Church.

Memorials are suggested to St. Rose St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Contact Jim Sielicki at: jsielicki@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.

Funeral Home

Witzler Shank Funeral Home
222 E South Boundary St Perrysburg, OH 43551
(419) 874-3133

Published in Toledo Blade on Jan. 14, 2013
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