Remembering Susan Warfield “Sue” Caples ’60, Lead Donor for MBU’s Social Work Program

Former Mary Baldwin trustee and Alumni Board president, and lead donor and namesake of MBU’s social work program, Susan Warfield “Sue” Caples ’60 died on April 18 after a long struggle with dementia. She was 82 years old. 

“Sue made a lasting impact on Mary Baldwin through her devoted service on the Alumni Board and the Board of Trustees, and through her and husband Rob’s founding and support of the social work program, ” said MBU President Pamela Fox. “Their generosity set in motion the careers of so many social workers who are dedicated to improving quality of life for individuals and communities, just as Sue did herself.  I remember with great fondness the day Sue and I sat in a coffee shop in Williamsburg and began to formulate the vision and the dream for the program that now bears her name.”

Susan Warfield “Sue” Caples ’60 (pictured at left in the 1960 Bluestocking) died on April 18 after a long struggle with dementia. Caples was a former trustee and the lead donor for MBU’s social work program, 

When Caples learned in 2007 that 148 students had petitioned Mary Baldwin to add a bachelor of social work to the curriculum, she told her husband, Rob, “we have to be a part of this.” Passionate about the field, Caples had returned to school after raising her children to earn a master of social work from Fordham University, and practiced as a medical social worker in Connecticut and New York, before retiring with her husband to Williamsburg. 

With a generous donation in answer to those students’ call, the couple made possible the founding of Mary Baldwin’s nationally accredited social work program, and a later gift by the Caples family in 2015 endowed it for generations to come under the name of the Susan Warfield Caples Department of Social Work. 

“She just loves Mary Baldwin. I’ve heard her say many times that Mary Baldwin is the best thing that’s ever happened to her,” said Rob Caples about his wife in 2015. “She always liked social work; she’s just a wonderful person who loves people.”

Their endowment also established a scholarship to support students with demonstrated financial need enrolled in the social work program through the Caples Social Work Fund.  

Now one of MBU’s most popular undergraduate majors, both on campus and through MBU Online, social work offers many opportunities for students including service learning, participation in community partnerships, and international field work.

“As for my Mary Baldwin experience, it was the perfect school for me,” said Sue Caples in 2010, “and I learned more there about myself than I have learned in any other setting. I owe so much to Mary Baldwin!”

In addition to her service on behalf of her alma mater, Sue Caples was a two-term president of the Neighbor to Neighbor Association in Governors Land, a Williamsburg neighborhood, and an active volunteer at Historic Jamestowne.

She is survived by Rob, her husband of 59 years, and their three sons and families: Scott, his wife, Jen, and children Ridge and Samantha; Tim, his wife, Jill, and children Mac and Elie; and Jeff, his wife, Christina, and children Andrew and Catherine.

Memorial contributions in Sue Caples’ honor may be made to the Caples Social Work Fund at Mary Baldwin University or the Respite Care Ministry through Williamsburg United Methodist Church. For more information, please see her obituary.