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1939 John A. Costello 2024

John A. Costello

September 4, 1939 — March 27, 2024

Boynton Beach, Florida

John (Jack) Costello 1939-2024

John Alan Costello, forever known as Jack, died peacefully in his Florida home on Wednesday, March 27, 2024 following a lengthy illness. 

Born in his parents’ home in Medford, Massachusetts on Sept. 4, 1939, Jack was the sixth child and third son of Charles and Ruth (Crowley) Costello’s 10 children.  His work ethic and dedication to his family were skills honed as young as eight when he and his older two brothers, Jimmy and Chick (Charles) would wake before dawn to scale the nearby railroad tracks for stray pieces of coal that fell from passing trains. Ruth used the collected coal to light the stove to prepare meals, and Charles loaded the rest into the home’s coal-burning heating system. 

When Jack was about 11, the growing family moved to another home in Medford and Jack never tired of telling the story of how, on move-in day, he, Chick and Jimmy rushed into the basement and rejoiced at seeing a gas burner. Their coal scavenging days were over. In the new home on Lapham Street, Jack and his now four brothers shared clothing and two double beds in the unheated and unfinished attic. Good humored, they coined the phrase: “The first one up is the best dressed.”

 As a preteen and a student at Christopher Columbus School in Boston’s North End, Jack contracted Scarlet Fever. After months of illness, he was  left with a heart murmur, which permanently disqualified him from joining the US Armed Forces. Once recovered, he joined other adolescent boys in the predawn hours earning money unloading produce trucks in Haymarket Square. He never forgot the Italian names for produce and always talked about the kindness of the vendors for whom he worked. They always made sure he went off to school well fed, and one even took him aside and helped him get his first pair of glasses, something he could have used years earlier. 

Jack was a standout baseball and football player in both school and recreation leagues. He also played coronet in the marching band. As an underclassman, he was unceremoniously expelled from Christopher Columbus and would never share the story. (The day before he died two grandsons asked again. His answer was an ear-to-ear smile and this statement: “I’m taking that one to the grave.”) To his parents’ horror, the expulsion meant that Jack had to transfer to the very public Medford High School where he would be interacting with non-Catholics. Despite that, he became a standout quarterback for the Mustangs, but his time there was brief.

A scout for the Rivers School of Weston watched Jack play ball and recruited him to the then all-boys independent school. Jack accepted, despite his parents still recovering from the Medford High debacle. They could not fathom one of their children attending a Protestant-backed school and refused to attend his graduation. No stranger to early mornings, Jack had to take multiple buses to get to and from Medford and Weston each day. Jack said attending Rivers was one of the best decisions of his life. Rivers provided him with an outstanding education and a view of the world beyond St. James’ Parish.

Jack began a Business Administration degree at Boston University, working part time stocking groceries at First National Store on Beacon Street. On a summer day, he joined friends at Revere Beach where he met Jane Lunn, then 17. They married on Sept. 24, 1960, and their son Alan was born the following July. This put Jack’s college education on hold as he provided for his young family. He arranged to attend Boston University part time, eventually graduating in 1978. 

Receiving his degree one year before his oldest child began college was another proud moment of Jack’s. He would share the story of dedication with anyone who thought they were too old to go to college or too old to return. He was a proud alumni of BU. 

Jack was very involved in his children’s activities, frequenting baseball, football and basketball games and track and swim meets. His work at Converse Rubber had him traveling to presses all over the country, leaving little time for him to coach. He served as a Town Meeting representative for Billerica, focusing heavily on creating safe traffic intersections, when the family resided there for 14 years. 

Chicago-based Ideal Roller (now RotoDyne Industries) saw promise in Jack and convinced him to move his family to Illinois and work for them. This new position had Jack advising on constructing the proper printing rollers for large and small presses all over North, South and Central America, Asia and Europe. Jack turned many professional colleagues into lifelong friends. He eagerly sampled the local cuisine, experienced the culture and chatted with the locals. He said he heard the same mantra all over the world. “Everyone has the same goal, ‘keep their family safe and pay the light bill.’”  His passports boast stamps from more than 50 countries. Occasionally, he spoke about the pleasure of sipping a martini at 36,000 feet high in Business Class. 

Jack retired at 60 after his first cancer diagnosis. He and Jane bought a house in Boynton Beach, Florida where they hosted many parties with the neighbors and entertained family and friends. He served as the financial person on the HOA, spent some days with a group of new friends at the horse and dog tracks, went out to dinner and lunch with Jane and learned the species and habits of the feathered friends that inhabited the pond that abutted his new home.

 Jack had a knack for making everyone around him feel valued and heard. He withheld judgment. When he did speak, it was always words of encouragement and kindness. One of his maxims was “Now, think about where you are now and compare that to where you were 10 years ago.” 

Jack enjoyed a good poker game, deep sea fishing, attending games of the Boston Red Sox, Celtics, the Chicago White Sox, Bears and Bulls, reading massive tomes on historical figures and war while listening to jazz albums, and an annual trip to Las Vegas. Above all, he cherished time with his family and friends, as he believed solid relationships were the most valuable resource one could have. He is predeceased by his beloved wife, Jane, who died in 2019. 

Jack is survived by five children, Alan, Maureen, Scot, Mark and Michael; four daughters-in-law, Carol, Kathy, Cori and Crystal; 12 grandchildren, Alison, Ryan, Courtney, Patrick, William, John, Kristina, Nicholas, Bailey, Kelly, Chris and Kate; seven great-grandchildren, Scarlett, Maxwell, Phoenix, Lucy, Daisy, Jude and Remi; two siblings, Carol Castle and David Costello, and several nieces and nephews.

He is also predeceased by his parents and seven siblings, Dolores Dietrich, Ruth Hadaller, James Costello, Charles Costello, Maureen Hughes, Thomas Costello and Betty-Jean O’Flaherty. 

All are welcome to a celebration of Jack’s life on Saturday, May 11 at Tillman Funeral Home & Crematory, 2170 South Military Trail, West Palm Beach, Florida from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM. 

Donations may also be made in his name to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of John A. Costello, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Gathering of Family & Friends

Saturday, May 11, 2024

11:00am - 1:00 pm (Eastern time)

Tillman Funeral Home and Crematory

2170 S Military Trail, West Palm Beach, FL 33415

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