John P. "No Nails" Costello, a retired Bethlehem Steel Corp. carpenter and active church member, died of cancer Sunday at his home in Baltimore's Eastwood neighborhood. He was 84.
Mr. Costello was born and raised in Mount Carmel, Pa., the son of Italian immigrant parents from Naples. After graduation from high school, he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps and was assigned to camps throughout the Northeast.
During World War II, he enlisted in the Navy and was a cook aboard trains transporting naval personnel to the West Coast. He was a seaman second class at his discharge.
Mr. Costello took a job in 1949 at Bethlehem Steel's Sparrows Point plant, where he was a carpenter for 35 years until retiring in 1984.
"During the entire time of his employment with Bethlehem Steel, he never missed a scheduled day of work, despite illness, including several bouts of kidney stones. He often accepted and worked double-shifts," said his son John R. Costello of Bel Air.
He was dubbed "No Nails" Costello by co-workers.
"He garnered that name for his habit of saving time and effort in constructing various scaffolding with the minimum possible amount of nails required for the job," the son said.
From 1984 until retiring last May, he was the janitor at Steelworkers Hall on Dundalk Avenue.
Mr. Costello was an active communicant of Our Lady of Fatima Roman Catholic Church, as an usher and member of the Holy Name Society and Leisure Club. He also was a regular at monthly penny-ante poker games held at the church.
For years, he was in charge of the church kitchen, which prepared and served food for the parish's annual Christmas dinner and bazaar. He also was known for his fried-dough bow ties that were sold at its annual summer carnival.
"He was always so busy with the church and at the Steelworkers Hall, he didn't have time for much else," his son said.
Mr. Costello's wife of 28 years, the former Eleanor T. Raber, died in 1970.
A funeral Mass for Mr. Costello was offered Thursday.
He is survived by his wife of 32 years, the former Theresa M. Grabowski; another son, Robert M. Costello of Essex; two stepdaughters, Joan Higgins of Kingsville and Rosalie Bagliani of Baltimore; three brothers, Phillip Costello of Mount Carmel, Pa., Anthony Costello of San Diego and Joseph Costello of Lancaster, Pa.; a sister, Rose Hynoski of Mount Carmel, Pa.; and three grandchildren.
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