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Honorable Patrica Costello
February 11, 1928 - January 25, 2018

The Honorable Patricia Costello, retired judge of Monroe County’s First District Court, passed away peacefully at home after a life of accomplishment, humility, admiration and love.

Born in Council Bluffs, Iowa on February 11, 1928 as the youngest child of Frank and Mary Head, she had two brothers, John and David, and a sister, Elizabeth. The family later lived in St. Paul, and when she was a teen and young adult, in Chicago. As a girl, she spent many summers on her aunt and uncle’s farm in North Dakota, escaping the threat of polio, common in the cities in those years. There, she developed a lifelong fondness for the countryside and the peace that is inherent in such places.

In Chicago, she entered DePaul University and graduated from its College of Law in 1950, passing the Illinois Bar examination that same year. She began her legal career in the trust department of Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Co., noting recently that law firms did not hire female attorneys at the time.

In 1951, she married Philip A. Costello of Chicago, whom she met in law school. The couple soon relocated to South Carolina following Mr. Costello’s service as a Naval Reserve officer. It is there that they began their own family, before moving back to Chicago. In 1956, the young family eventually put down roots in Monroe. The couple quickly found many new friends and began what became decades of community engagement.

In 1966, when she was just 38 years old, her husband died leaving her responsible for their six children, then ranging in age from two to 13 years old. She rose to the challenge with the support of family and friends. To provide for herself and her children, she passed the Michigan Bar examination, resumed her legal career and joined her late husband’s law firm, which became Weipert, Costello & LaVoy. She was the first woman to practice law in the history of Monroe County. Within a decade, she built a reputation as a knowledgeable and compassionate leader and won election to Monroe County’s First District Court, becoming the first woman to be elected judge in the county. Judge Costello was re-elected three times and ultimately served 24 years on the bench.

Although Mrs. Costello focused her life on caring for her family, she also became a board member and past president of United Way of Monroe County, a board member of MORE, Catholic Social Services, St. Mary Parish Council, SMCC’s High School Board and other community organizations. She was also an active member of several civic groups including the Monroe Rotary Club, Altrusa, and Monroe County NAACP.

Whenever possible, Mrs. Costello enjoyed travel throughout the United States and visited well over a dozen countries including Japan, Australia, Ireland, Switzerland, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and just last year, Sweden and Denmark. She was an avid reader, devouring everything from books on travel, economics and physics to novels about pastoral life. There was rarely a topic on which she could not intelligently engage nor one about which she was not interested.

Among her fondest interests were her grandchildren. She delighted in their lives and could be found cheering on the sidelines of many of their sporting events. She rarely missed a graduation ceremony, First Communion or Confirmation, even if that meant jumping from state to state to do so. At every chance, she let her grandchildren know how much she loved them. They, in kind, loved and were inspired by her.

Throughout her life, Mrs. Costello tended to her affairs quietly and remained modest about her achievements. Always impeccably dressed, she had a keen sense of design and leant a genuine sophistication and elegance to all she did. With an easy laugh, she approached the world optimistically and encouraged those around her to succeed.

A devout Catholic, Mrs. Costello attributed her many successes to her faith. “It was God’s accomplishment,” she was quoted as having said in a recent tribute by The Monroe News. “I feel very fortunate.”

In addition to her husband, Mrs. Costello was preceded in death by a loving grandson, Sean Brady. She is survived by her six children and their spouses: Mary (Paul Matthews), Philip (Nancy), Holden (Lisa), Kevin (Susan), Ann (Richard) Brady, and Daniel; 13 grandchildren: Alison, Andrew, Emily, Philip, Paul, Sarah, Austin, Megan, Michael, Claire, Ethan, Julia, and Bryan; and many nieces and nephews.

A visitation will be held at Bacarella Funeral Home from 2:00 to 8:00pm on Friday, February 2nd. Mrs. Costello will lie in state at St. Mary Catholic Church in Monroe on Saturday, February 3rd, beginning at 10:00am, and a Catholic Mass of Resurrection will be celebrated at 11:00am by Fr. David Burgard, and the homilist will be Deacon Mike Stewart. The family asks that memorials be directed to the Sean Brady Memorial Scholarship Fund.

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