Editor’s note: Each Monday, the Kenosha News takes a look at the life of a Kenosha County resident who recently died. We share with you, through the memories of family and friends, a life remembered.
His name was George, but everyone knew him as Bobby.
Bobby’s last name was Capoun, a name associated with golfing in this area for over 40 years.
Bobby and his father, the late George Capoun Sr., were owners and operators of Capoun Golf Academy, 4209 Green Bay Rd. Bobby was also a multiple winner of both the Kenosha County Open and Racine County Open.
“He was probably one of the best short game players I’ve played with,” said Peter Eitel, longtime friend and head golf professional at Ives Grove Golf Course in Racine. “He was a great putter and great chipper, which is probably why he was so good in tournaments.”
In addition to his impressive golf game, Bobby was known for his big personality.
“Great memories and lots of funny stories” is how Bobby’s ex-wife Sharon Nelson remembers him. “It was just silly things; Bob just being Bob.”
“He was fun,” said his son, Greg Capoun. “We had a lot of fun with this guy.”
On March 25, George “Bobby” Capoun Jr., 61, died unexpectedly. Surviving are his children, Gregory (Amanda Miller) Capoun and Lindsay (Jerry Battisti) Capoun; his former wife, Sharon Nelson; and six grandchildren.
Bobby was born in Palatine, Ill., on May 4, 1957, the son of George and Mary “Ethel” Capoun. He attended schools in Illinois, moving to Wisconsin when his father purchased the golf range on Green Bay Road in Kenosha.
On May 3, 1980, Bobby married Sharon Nelson. “She didn’t know his first name was George until they got married,” Lindsay said. Sharon says that her immediate impression of Bobby was, “He was fun. Fun and good looking.”
Although they later divorced, they remained good friends, said Sharon.
“We remained friends forever; we shared our ups and downs,” she said.
Bobby began golfing as a child at four or five years old through his father, who was with the Professional Golfer’s Association and later maintained golf courses for the U.S. Navy.
After high school, Bobby began working with his father at the golf range. He began the process to play for the PGA, but did not continue due to requirements that he go to work at a country club or private course.
Instead, Bobby worked at the driving range and “played for fun,” Lindsay said. Over the years, Bobby won the Racine County Open multiple times and the Kenosha County Senior Open 10 years in a row.
He lived where he worked, above the golf pro shop at the driving range. The shop itself looked lived in, with a working fireplace and well-used workshop for club repair. “He put a lot of time and effort into this place,” Lindsay said.
Bobby fixed golf clubs and gave golf lessons, washed golf balls and mowed the grass. He was also the man in the shop when friends and golfers just wanted to stop in for a chat, said family.
“If you weren’t his friend when you met him, you were very soon,” Sharon said.
“One thing about Bobby, I always felt he was one of my best friends, but if you talk to 20 people, they’d all say they were his best friend,” Pete said.
“He was a real big people person,” Greg said.
These qualities made Bob a successful entrepreneur. “He was smart and very friendly and people liked him,” Sharon said.
Pete met Bobby in 1990 through mutual golf friends. “Right away we hit it off and started playing golf together. He was just a blast to play golf with.”
One of the things that made Bobby unique, said Pete, was his large hands. “He had big mitts,” he said.
As absorbed as he was with the golf world, Bobby lived outside of it as well, said Lindsay. “His job was golf, but his hobby was fishing.”
He didn’t have any special fishing spots, but “just towed the boat where he wanted to go,” Lindsay said.
He fished in the summer in Wisconsin, and during winters, Bob enjoyed ice fishing and traveling to Florida for more warm-weather fishing.
Bobby also loved being with his family. “His kids were his best friends,” Sharon said.
Lindsay said her father was laid-back and enjoyed joking around. “He didn’t take life too seriously. He was a class clown; he always had something smart to say.”
In 2009, things got serious for Bobby when he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. He underwent treatment for it, which was successful. “He made the best of it and beat it,” Greg said.
Despite his challenges, Bobby “enjoyed life to the fullest,” said family.
“He was a champ,” Lindsay said.
Said Sharon, “He had a zest for life; he was crazy funny; he had a kind heart and a loving soul; and he would do anything for anyone.”