Lois Capps at her home in Santa Barbara (Aug. 27, 2015)
Paul Wellman

Upon the sudden death of her husband, Walter Capps, in 1997, Lois Capps rose to the occasion by running for his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. She won in March 1998, and has been Santa Barbara’s Congresswoman ever since, winning nine elections and serving the better part of two decades in Washington, D.C. In April of this year, the nine-term Democrat announced that she would not seek reelection in 2016, setting off the first truly competitive race for her district (today the 24th, though previously both the 22nd and 23rd) in years.

As a Yale divinity student and former high school nurse, it wasn’t surprising to hear that the two historical figures Lois admires most are Clara Harlowe Barton and Florence Nightingale. At a time when relatively few American women worked outside the home. Barlowe founded the American Red Cross and worked as a hospital nurse during the Civil War. Nightingale, meanwhile, was a celebrated social reformer and is considered the founder of modern nursing. The inspiration of both women certainly has shown during the tenure of Rep. Capps, who has passionately advocated on such issues as health care, education, oil drilling, environmental protection, gender equity, and gay rights.

It’s also not surprising that Lois consistently wins the “nicest person in Congress award,” as voted by congressional staffers. Her warm personality shines in the conversations we’ve shared, always proving very focused, caring, and an incredibly intent listener.

I will definitely miss her as our U.S. Representative, but I’m very honored that she’s taken the time to answer this week’s Proust Questionnaire.

What is your current state of mind?


What do you consider your greatest achievement?

A wonderful marriage and children.

Who do you most admire?

My grandchildren, and all kids their age, for their optimism and enthusiasm for the unknown tomorrow.

What do you like most about your job?

The wonderful people I get to represent.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Perfect happiness is a walk along the beach with a good friend or family member.

What is your greatest fear?

I’m always afraid of what lurks in the dark around the corner.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Sleeping in.

What is the quality you most like in people?

Openness and trustworthiness.

What is the quality you most dislike in people?


What do you most value in friends?

Being genuine

What is your most marked characteristic?


Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“As a former school nurse…”

Which talent would you most like to have?

A beautiful singing voice.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I can never have enough energy.

Where would you most like to live?

Right where I do.

What is your most treasured possession?


What makes you laugh the most?

A good joke.

What is your motto?

“Never give up,” by Phil Womble.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Florence Nightingale or Clara Barton.

On what occasion do you lie?

When asked how I feel and I really I feel lousy, but don’t want to admit it.


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