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Nancy C. Costello, 83

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Nancy Claire Peters Costello, 83, of Bonita Springs, Fla., died on July 25, 2020, after a brief illness. 

Nancy will be best remembered for her warm smile, irrepressible enthusiasm, and her enduring love for her late husband, Fred Costello. Nancy and Fred began "going steady" in eighth grade and were married for more than 60 years. Less than a year after Fred's passing, Nancy has now rejoined her beloved in eternal life.

Nancy was born on August 25, 1937, in Pittsfield, Mass., to Ann Peters, a dental hygienist, and to Francis Peters, a Ford car salesman and owner of Peters' Garage. The couple raised Nancy and her two sisters in the Berkshires. As a young girl Nancy dreamed of becoming a missionary nun, traveling the world to advance peace and social justice. but those plans were put aside after she met Fred. Even so, Nancy went on to lead a life devoted to helping others and with a spirit of adventure that infused all of her endeavors.

Nancy graduated from Lee High School and earned a diploma from Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene. Later in life, after most of her children were grown, Nancy, a gifted listener, earned two master's degrees in counseling from St Joseph's College. With those credentials, Nancy counseled high school girls and struggling teens; she also led parenting groups and volunteered with hospice.

Nancy’s priority was always her six children, 21 grandchildren and great-grandchild, who were scattered across the country, and sometimes the world. When this matriarch was beside a loved one, they were sure to be heard, loved and authentically celebrated.

Despite her many moves with Fred, Nancy always managed to keep family close. The couple lived in six states as well as Hong Kong and Tokyo - years abroad that Nancy, an intrepid traveler, especially cherished.  Indeed, Nan was known to pack a small bag and happily hail a ride on any mode of transport, so long as it was headed toward family or her favorite city, New York. Nancy would show up on doorsteps with a smile, a hug and a "How can I help?" Whether she found the person on the other side of the door in grief or in joy or somewhere in between, Nancy intuitively knew what they needed.

Nancy was a devoted Catholic and a supporter of progressive political causes. During the Vietnam War, Nancy provided refuge in her home to men who were avoiding the draft and she left her young children with their father to attend anti-war marches in Washington, D.C. In the 1960s, Nancy volunteered with Fred to register Black voters in St. Louis, and she protested against nuclear submarines and war in general. In retirement, Nancy corresponded and visited with a man on death row, and she continued to demonstrate her compassion and concern for strangers in need, by volunteering for multiple causes devoted to social justice.

Later in life, Nancy pursued art, including watercolor, acrylics and sculpture. And it is undeniable that throughout her life, Nancy saw art and beauty everywhere. On long car rides or evening strolls, Nancy was the first to point out the way the light was hitting the trees, and she loved to pluck arrangements from her gardens, creating small bouquets around the house, and always fresh flowers at the bedside of visitors. When they retired, Fred and Nancy split their time between Washington, Conn., and Bonita Springs, Fla., where they continued to welcome a stream of visitors, including many grandchildren. On those occasions, Nan put everything aside to host, leading trips to local beaches, libraries, and - much to Fred’s dismay - spearheading impromptu art projects with acrylic paints on the living room carpet. 

Nancy was a lifelong learner who cherished the Sunday New York Times, clippings from which would often appear in the mailboxes of loved ones. She was also known to doze off during long games of Trivial Pursuit and magically awaken to shout out correct answers to the amazement of all. Singing was another passion of Nancy’s despite the fact that she possessed few gifts in that area. No matter; she joined in any sing-along with gusto, hand-clapping and sheer delight. On these occasions, she loved nothing more than to grab someone's hand and dance around the room.

Nancy would certainly say, "Thanks a million," to all who loved her. She enjoyed a great ride and we, in turn, were deeply blessed to have been a part of her exquisite, heart-led journey.

Nancy is predeceased by her husband Frederick James Costello. She is survived by their six children and spouses, Fred Costello Jr. and Ann Nobis of Bonita Springs, Fla., Catherine and Ronnie Bennett of Bethlehem, Ga., Dan Costello and Kerry Bernard of Maynard, Mass., Sue Costello and Jeff Keffer of Arlington, Mass., James Costello and Candy Chan of Hong Kong, and Amy Costello and Gregory Watt of Austin, Texas. 

Nancy was predeceased by her son-in-law Jim Christmann; her grandson Peter Keffer-Fries and granddaughter Stephanie Kay Bennett.  She leaves her sisters and their spouses, Jean and Robert O’Neill of Hingham, Mass., and Marie and Dietrich Frank of Portsmouth, N.H.

Funeral notice: In lieu of flowers, please consider performing an act of kindness for a friend or stranger, flossing your teeth, or voting. If you are moved to do more, please know that one of Nancy’s favorite sayings was "Vote early and often!" So please consider a donation to the nonpartisan League of Women Voters at You may check a box to indicate that yours is a tribute donation or mail a check to PO Box 11036 Lewiston, ME 04242-9405. 

Expressions of sympathy may be sent to: Fred Costello Jr., 27290 Hidden River Court,  Bonita Springs, Fla.,  34134. A private graveside ceremony will be held at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Lee, MA. There will be a celebration of Nancy’s life at a later date.

Obituary Provided By: Kelly Funeral Home

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