Howard Costello, 1923 - 2019
Howard W. Costello, well-known Sonoman who taught math at Sonoma Valley High School for 32 years, died on March 17, 2019 in Coos Bay, Oregon, the home of his son, Don Costello. He was 96 years old.
Born August 30, 1923 in Rochester, Minnesota to Miles and Hilda Costello, he was raised in Rochester and graduated from Rochester High School in 1941. He was attending Rochester Junior College when WWII started and he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, which sent him to weather-forecaster school.
After completion of his military service, he visited his sister, Evelyn in Mill Valley, California, where he met and fell in love with her roommate, Marjorie Hughes, from Arkansas. They were married Aug. 29, 1946, and he enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley that fall.
An accomplished high school and junior college athlete, he played one season of football at Cal and one season as an outfielder for the Cal baseball team. His teammate that season was All-American Jackie Jensen.
Howard and Marge’s son, Don was born in 1948. Upon earning his degree and teaching credential in 1950, the family moved to Sonoma where Howard was hired at Sonoma Valley High School to teach math, coach three sports and drive the school bus.
He and Marge were active in the community, particularly on causes that help people in need.
His son, Don, said that his father loved teaching. “He loved every student, top to bottom, and said he would have taught for free if he didn’t need to make a living. He loved animals, especially dogs. He was known for his intelligence, integrity, patience, steadiness and sense of humor. He gave the world far more than he took from it. He never gave up on anyone or anything.”
Howard retired from teaching in 1982, after 32 years, but remained in contact with many of his former students, especially those who stayed in Sonoma. He and his wife Marge lived in their home at the corner of Fourth Street East and Lovall Valley Road for more than a half century. She died in 2010.
Howard planted roses and dedicated a bench in her memory, just a short walk along the bike path near their home on Fourth Street East near Sebastiani Winery.
During the October, 2017 wildfires, one of his many local former students, Jim Marioni, and Jim’s wife, Leslie, rescued him from the choking smoke that had descended upon the Valley and drove him to Don’s home in Coos Bay.
He settled in with Don and his wife, Karen, and enjoyed frequent outings and family gatherings during holidays.
In February of 2018, a serious heart condition required hospitalization and continuous care. In spite of his frail condition, he never stopped thinking about his friends in Sonoma and was looking forward to the upcoming baseball season.
He passed away on March 17.
He is survived by Don (Karen) of Coos Bay, Oregon; grandson Ian Costello (Sara) of Bend, Oregon; granddaughter Eryn Costello (Robert) of Vancouver, WA; step-granddaughter Sunniva Jelsing (Max) and their daughter Vivienne of Los Angeles; his sister Marion Zoebisch of Seattle; and nieces and nephews including his wife’s sister’s daughter Diane De Luna (Richard) of Austin, Texas, with whom he is especially close.
His ashes are now with his wife’s. The family announced that there will be no funeral, but there will be a celebration of his life at the Swiss Hotel on June 9 from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Marge and Howard Costello dedicated themselves to helping others less fortunate, particularly those without adequate food and clothing. The family suggests a way to honor Howard W. Costello is by a donation to FISH, Friends in Sonoma Helping.