Wil­liam C. Costello

For­mer re­porter for The Evening Sun and Life mag­a­zine later was ad­ver­tis­ing direc­tor for Na­tional Brew­ing Co.

Baltimore Sun - - OBITUARIES - By Fred­er­ick N. Ras­mussen fras­mussen@balt­sun.com

Wil­liam C. Costello, a for­mer Evening Sun sportswriter and Life mag­a­zine re­porter who­later be­came ad­ver­tis­ing direc­tor for the old Na­tional Brew­ing Co., died last Fri­day of con­ges­tive heart fail­ure at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Tow­son. The Tow­son res­i­dent was 82. “Bill was a guy who really en­joyed life, a good laugh, and when I think of him, I think of the laughs we shared,” said for­mer Evening Sun sports ed­i­tor and colum­nist Bill Tan­ton.

“He was a real Bawlamer guy. He was a real good guy,” said for­mer Sun colum­nist and au­thor Michael Olesker, who lives in Mount Wash­ing­ton.

The son of Wil­liam F. Costello Jr., an ac­tor and sales­man, and Muriel Haas Costello, a pi­anist and homemaker, Wil­liam Charles Costello was born in Brook­lyn, N.Y.

When he was about 5 years old, he and his fam­ily moved to Tramore Av­enue in Hamil­ton, and later to Catal­pha Road.

He at­tended Mount Saint Joseph High School in Irv­ing­ton and played foot­ball, basketball and base­ball. He trans­ferred to Tow­son Catholic High School, where he also played basketball, and grad­u­ated in 1952.

“Bill and I first met on Sept. 27, 1939, at the south­east cor­ner of Tramore and Ever­green Av­enue in Hamil­ton,” Row­land E. “Rol” King, for­mer direc­tor of en­gi­neer­ing at the Na­tional Brew­ing Co. and a close friend of 77 years, wrote in an email. “He loved sports and be­ing with peo­ple. He was very in­tel­li­gent and fun-lov­ing.”

Mr. Costello was work­ing at Beth­le­hem Steel Corp.’s Spar­rows Point plant when he was drafted into the Army in 1953. He served two years in Ger­many and was dis­charged in 1955.

He en­rolled at what is now Loy­ola Univer­sity Mary­land in 1955 but left when he was hired by The Evening Sun in 1956.

In 1966, he com­pleted his de­gree by at­tend­ing night school on the GI Bill of Rights.

Mr. Tan­ton re­called that Paul Men­ton, then Evening Sun sports ed­i­tor, hired Mr. Costello on the spot be­cause he needed some­one to cover a basketball championship se­ries.

“Bill had no writ­ing or news­pa­per ex­pe­ri­ence, but Paul hired him any­way. So he came to me and asked how to write the story, and I told him to keep it to the ba­sics and lay it all out there,” Mr. Tan­ton said. “He con­tin­ued to show that he had learned how to do the job and do it well ... and be­came a won­der­ful sportswriter.”

While at the Evening Sun, Mr. Costello cov­ered in­ter­scholas­tic sports, ten­nis and swim­ming.

“Bill brought a fan’s in­sight to his cov­er­age and a great sto­ry­teller’s skills as well,” said Mr. Olesker. “He wasn’t just a guy for recit­ing stats. He told you about the hu­man be­ings play­ing the games, and he did it with good cheer and hu­mor and, when nec­es­sary, pathos.”

Af­ter leav­ing The Evening Sun in 1962, Mr. Costello moved to New York City and joined the staff of Life mag­a­zine.

He wrote a num­ber of cover ar­ti­cles, in­clud­ing one on Roger Staubach, who was then a young quar­ter­back at the Naval Academy.

“Among the sto­ries I wrote were a pro­file of Yogi Berra when he was named man­ager of the Yan­kees; a wild 500-mile river race in Texas in which more than 200 boats started and only two fin­ished; and a nail-bit­ing nine-day coal mine res­cue in Shep­p­ton, Pa.,” Mr. Costello wrote in a bi­o­graph­i­cal sketch.

In 1964, Mr. Costello re­signed from Life and re­turned to Bal­ti­more when he was named direc­tor of ad­ver­tis­ing for the Na­tional Brew­ing Co.

Work­ing with W. B. Doner & Co., a Detroit and Bal­ti­more agency, he wrote mar­ket­ing plans and ad­ver­tis­ing copy for six bev­er­ages, in­clud­ing Na­tional Bo­hemian and Na­tional Pre­mium beers and Colt 45 malt liquor. One of his cam­paigns won a Clio Award.

“Bill knew what it took to at­tract peo­ple to the brand. He knew how to tell a story us­ing phrases like ‘the Land of Pleas­ant Liv­ing,’ jin­gles and those Billy Van com­mer­cials,” Mr. King said in a tele­phone in­ter­view. “He really was a very, very cre­ative per­son.”

Af­ter leav­ing Na­tional Brew­ing in 1974, he worked for five years at the ad­ver­tis­ing firm of Matthews, Cremins, McLean, first in its Detroit of­fice and later in Char­lotte, N.C., as a se­nior vice pres­i­dent and gen­eral man­ager. He later worked at agen­cies in Kansas City and Wash­ing­ton, then re­turned to Bal­ti­more in 1987 with Freed & As­so­ciates. Here he won an Addy Award from the Amer­i­can Ad­ver­tis­ing Fed­er­a­tion for ads he created for MARC. Other clients in­cluded Mano Swartz Furs and Carpet Fair.

In 1992, Mr. Costello es­tab­lished his own busi­ness as an ad­ver­tis­ing and mar­ket­ing con­sul­tant. He re­tired in 2003.

Mr. Costello also oc­ca­sion­ally wrote free­lance ar­ti­cles. In 1978, he wrote for The Evening Sun about the death of Jim “Ju­nior” Gil­liam, a Brook­lyn and Los Angeles Dodger player and coach who died of a stroke at 49.

In the ar­ti­cle, he re­called see­ing Mr. Gil­liam, who in Bal­ti­more was called “Junebug,” early in his ca­reer. Mr. Gil­liam played sec­ond base for the Elite Gi­ants of the Ne­gro Base­ball Leagues at old Bu­gle Field.

“He had a wide gap be­tween his front teeth, and that spring he was the best base­ball in­fielder I had ever seen,” he wrote.

Mr. Costello wrote that base­ball fans know Bal­ti­more pro­duced Babe Ruth and Al Ka­line, but said: “I, for one, am happy that Bal­ti­more is also where the base­ball tal­ents of Ju­nior Gil­liam were sharp­ened. Thanks, Junebug, for stop­ping by.”

On the 50th an­niver­sary of the Colts’ 23-17 over­time vic­tory in 1958 over the New York Gi­ants at Yan­kee Sta­dium — in what has been called the “Great­est Game Ever Played” — Mr. Costello wrote an ar­ti­cle for the now-de­funct Bal­ti­more Ex­am­iner. In it, he re­called gath­er­ing with his Hamil­ton bud­dies to watch the game.

The con­test was tied at 17 when sud­denly the TV went blank. He and his friends were out­raged that they might miss the end of the game but then: “The TV pic­ture is back. A [Johnny] Uni­tas pass to Jim Mutscheller puts the ball one yard from the championship. On third down, [Alan] Ameche storms into the end zone. We dance and shout and hug. Bal­ti­more’s Colts are now NFL cham­pi­ons … What a glo­ri­ous day!”

Mr. Costello was a jazz fan, and in his biography also said he en­joyed fic­tion, bi­ogra­phies, col­lege basketball, art, golf and “good sa­loons.”

A party cel­e­brat­ing his life will be held from noon to 2 p.m. Oct. 15 at Souris’ Saloon, 537 York Road, Tow­son.

He is sur­vived by daugh­ters Karen Jenk­ins of Lutherville, and Sally Costello Rogers and Christina “Tina” Berger, both of Tow­son; eight grand­chil­dren; and a great­grand­daugh­ter. An­other daugh­ter, Mar­garet “Peggy” Costello, died in 2007. Mar­riages to the for­mer Kath­leen Da­ley and El­lis Rios Win­ter ended in di­vorce. Wil­liam C. Costello “was a guy who really en­joyed life,” a for­mer col­league said.

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