Frederick James Costello, 61, of Bonita Springs, FL died suddenly on July 2, 2021. Fred will be best remembered for his quick smile, his deep devotion to family, his love of song, and his unparalleled knack for maintaining countless friendships across the miles and years.
Fred was born on May 17, 1960 in Fort Monmouth, NJ to Nancy Peters, a dental hygienist, and to Fred Costello, Sr., who spent his career with Union Carbide. The couple raised Fred and his five younger siblings in several states. These frequent childhood moves may have contributed to Fred’s love of travel, ideally to places where he could find white sand beaches, fine food, and ample supplies of Chardonnay. The best of these adventures happened with his beloved wife and traveling companion, Ann, by his side.
As early as high school, Fred demonstrated qualities that would become hallmarks of his life and career. As a teenager he displayed a rare combination of both leadership and humility; he was popular but kind to all. In fact, Fred was beloved by such a wide spectrum of classmates that he was voted senior class president and Homecoming King before graduating from Moorestown High School in Moorestown, New Jersey.
Fred went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University in the City of New York where he majored in history and political science but with a mischievous grin and a wink would readily admit that he spent his best hours pursuing the fine art of Greek life at his fraternity, Phi Gamma Delta.
After graduating, Fred remained in New York City, where he began a successful career in the food business. On many pre-dawn mornings, you would have found Fred, a fish buyer for several restaurants, haggling over prices at the city’s famed Fulton Fish Market or working late nights – and no doubt sweating profusely – managing restaurants in Manhattan.
But Fred always shined brightest when enveloped by his vast circle of family and friends; a seemingly endless sphere that spanned time zones and generations. Fred’s many close relationships were fostered intentionally by a man who always called loved ones on their birthdays; he was the gracious and patient host of days-long gatherings of family who would overtake the Florida home he shared with Ann. And as a new retiree, Fred lovingly and loyally shepherded his beloved parents through their final years.
As a parent himself, Fred made fatherhood fun. He planned family trips months in advance, taking Trey and Maggie to Europe and Asia and they often joined him in the stands to cheer on their beloved St Louis Cardinals, Arizona Cardinals and Chicago Bulls. Even after Maggie and Trey left home for college and careers, they continued to speak to their dad regularly by phone.
Whenever Maggie had a challenge she was facing in work or in life, her dad was always her first call, and he would often reply, “Are you looking for advice? Or just someone to listen?” Fred always intuitively knew which was needed. Similarly, Trey found in his dad a man with whom he was completely comfortable; their conversations were infused with witty quips and laughter and yet when he needed it, Trey could rely on his dad for sage advice. When Fred married Ann, he gained two “bonus children” in Keegan and Kathleen. He was a loving stepfather, mentor and friend to them in many ways.
Colleagues, friends and family experienced in Fred those same gifts – of empathic listener and wise counselor. At work, Fred was also a respected business leader and gifted public speaker; qualities that eventually propelled him to the roles of Senior Vice President and President at Grainger International, where he led the company’s billion-dollar international businesses outside of the US and Canada, until his retirement two years ago. Fred also volunteered on the Board of Directors at the American Red Cross of Illinois.
As his parents aged and later passed away, Fred delicately stepped into their shoes, re-emerging as the quintessential ‘big brother’ to his five younger siblings. Despite trials and family spats, Fred always led by example, choosing the high road and seeing the best in his loved ones. He managed the challenging terrain of familial relations with utter grace and open heartedness and in doing so, became the glue that held the family together. His siblings would regularly pick up the phone to hear their big brother say, “I just wanted to see how you’re doing.”
Fred was short in stature but his deep tan and thick coif of hair was the envy of many men. Indeed, Fred led a life that was large and successful by any measure, but he never demanded that others take notice. If there was ever someone who lead life by quiet example, it was Fred. Indeed, watching this man move through the world was a lesson in embracing life because he had experienced its spectrums: from the depths of sorrow and loss to the warm embrace of true love with Ann. And all those who were fortunate enough to love Fred received it back from him unconditionally and tenfold.
Perhaps no one moreso than his wife Ann Nobis Costello who survives him, and his children, Margaret (“Maggie”) Costello of Washington, DC and Frederick James Costello III (“Trey”) of Champaign, IL; his stepchildren, Kathleen Haines of Chicago, IL and Keegan Haines of Columbia, MO. Fred also leaves his five siblings and their spouses, Catherine and Ronnie Bennett of Bethlehem, GA; Dan Costello and Kerry Bernard of Maynard, MA; Sue Costello and Jeff Keffer of Arlington, MA; James Costello and Candy Chan of Hong Kong, and Amy Costello and Gregory Watt of Austin, TX; as well as friends, nieces and nephews too numerous to count.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Fred’s memory may be made to the “James V. Costello Scholarship” which supports low-income students at the alma mater of Fred’s father.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute c/o University Advancement, 100 Institute Road, Worcester, MA 01609.
You may also consider a donation to The Red Cross of Illinois. If you would like to make a donation by check, please fill out a donation form online and send to:
The American Red Cross, PO Box 37839, Boone, IA 50037-0839.
Expressions of sympathy may be sent to: Ann Nobis Costello 27290 Hidden River Court, Bonita Springs, FL 34134.
A private graveside ceremony will be held at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Lee, MA.
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