In Honor of
John Joseph Costa, BG (Ret)
John Joseph Costa passed away peacefully on August 6, 2013 in Cumming, GA and was preceded in death by his beloved wife Elizabeth (Teddy) Costa on April 6, 2012. John enjoyed a long and distinguished military career as an Infantry officer, and retired in 1989 from West Point as a Brigadier General following a ten-year assignment as permanent professor and Head of the Foreign Language Department. John and Teddy actively enjoyed the next 20 years living and working in Rhinebeck NY before health issues required them to relocate to Canton, Georgia to be closer to family.
Survivors include their five children Veronica Costa, Christopher Costa, Andrew Costa, Lisa Barden, and John Costa, their respective spouses, fourteen grandchildren, and five great grandchildren; siblings Pat, Peggy, Judy, Kathy, their spouses, and numerous nieces and nephews and their respective children; John and Teddy were also long-time guardians of Mary Maltzoff of Stockbridge, MA. John was predeceased by his parents, his wife Teddy, and his brothers Lou and Chuck.
John was born 7 May 1925 in Detroit, MI where he graduated high school in 1942. In 1943 he volunteered for Air Cadet Training, was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1944, and served in WWII in the Army Air Corps until 1945. Following the war John resigned his commission in order to join the Corps of Cadets at West Point, graduating in June 1949 and being commissioned a second time as an officer in the Infantry. He then embarked on a distinguished military career which included leadership and command positions from platoon through brigade, as well as service in high-level staff assignments in many locations around the world. His numerous awards and citations include the Legion of Merit, the Silver Star, and the Bronze Star. Upon his retirement from West Point in 1989 John had the distinction of being the last WWII veteran still on active duty in the Army.
While on assignment in Berlin, Germany in the early 1950’s he met the former Elizabeth Butler Schmertz, known by all as “Teddy”, and after their courtship they were married on 25 May 1954 in California, the start of 57 rich and exciting years together. During this time they raised five children, lived and traveled worldwide, and worked and volunteered in a wide and impressive variety of endeavors, making a deep and lasting impression on all whose lives they touched.
Following his retirement in 1989 John and Teddy moved to Rhinebeck NY where he continued his efforts to be of service to his community for the next two decades. John was a gifted linguist and worked for six years for the Government using his Russian language skills. He was later elected as Village Trustee of Rhinebeck in 1994 and 1996, and next served as a five-term mayor from 1997 through 2005. John’s efforts and initiatives as mayor led to many significant accomplishments throughout the community ranging from infrastructure improvements to historical restoration projects. His tenure in Rhinebeck was marked by active volunteer participation with the American Legion Post 429, the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, Northern Dutchess Hospital, the Rhinebeck Rotary Club, an active parishioner of the Good Shepherd Catholic community, Ferncliff Nursing Home, and the Rhinebeck Choral Club.
No matter where they lived around the world, John and Teddy were always the consummate host and hostess, with their home constantly open to family, friends, and new acquaintances alike, fostering and maintaining lifelong relationships along the way.
John will long be remembered for his honorable and selfless service to his country, his extensive military accomplishments, his strong religious convictions, his active participation in the Catholic Church, his dedication to always leading by example, his endless devotion to his family, his tireless quest to help those in need and those less fortunate, his and Teddy’s shared love of opera and the Met, and last but certainly not least by his unwavering support of the Detroit Tigers.
John Costa was a soldier, a loving husband and father, a teacher, and leader, and above all else a gentleman and man of integrity.
A funeral Mass for John and Teddy will be held at 10AM on Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at the Catholic Chapel at the US Military Academy at West Point, NY followed by burial at the West Point Cemetery with full military honors.
Ingram Funeral Home & Crematory, Cumming, Georgia is in charge of arrangements.
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