Elaine Costello, 78, beloved Mother, Grandmother, Sister, and Friend died from complications from pneumonia on August 16, 2020, at St. Vincent's Hospital in Santa Fe, NM. She was born on May 23, 1942, in Daisytown, PA, and was the daughter of the late Anthony and Helen Stetcko. Elaine was raised in Richeyville, PA and graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry from California University of PA, and a M.S. in Chemistry from the University of Utah. After meeting her husband Michael in Salt Lake City, Utah, the couple married in 1967 and moved to Belle Vernon, PA. Elaine returned to her alma mater, California University of PA (CUP) in 1967 as the first woman faculty member of the Chemistry Department. She spent her entire 37 year career teaching what she loved most – chemistry. Although she taught many disciplines of chemistry, her particular favorites were nursing chemistry and general chemistry, where she was most passionate to share her childlike wonder of the field with new students. She tutored numerous students, family, and friends throughout the years, and was an avid volunteer at her daughters’ elementary school, St. Sebastian’s, providing advanced mathematics lessons and chemistry demonstrations to the students. She was an active member of St. Sebastian’s Roman Catholic Church in Belle Vernon, PA, playing the organ for over 13 years and leading the Children’s Choir for much of that time.
After the passing of her husband in 2002 and her retirement from CUP in 2004 (with emeritus status), she spent her time building puzzles and reading British mysteries and loved all things nautical. Her greatest pleasure was visiting her daughters, Bridget (Utah) and Alison (New Mexico), and traveling with them around the world. In 2016, she moved from her long-time home in Belle Vernon to Los Alamos, NM to be closer to her daughters and their families, and in particular her beloved grandchildren, Jack Michael Pappas and Cassandra Leslie Pugmire. In January 2019, she survived a near-fatal infection that claimed her right leg, but allowed her to live with her daughter Alison, son-in-law David, and granddaughter Cassandra. Her vigor for life never ceased, as she exercised daily and worked towards walking on a prosthetic. She cherished the time she had watching her grandchildren grow and sharing her love of life, science, and learning with them. She lived her life with the motto, “Live each day with a smile on your face and a song in your heart.”
She is survived by her daughters and their families: Bridget (Costello) Pappas, Anthony Pappas, and Jack Michael Pappas of Salt Lake City, Utah; and Alison (Costello) Pugmire, David Pugmire, and Cassandra Pugmire of Los Alamos, NM. She is also survived by her sister and brother-in-law, Patricia and Edward Vavrick, McKeesport, PA; nephew Ryan Vavrick and family of Bridgeport, WV; brothers-in-law and sisters-in-laws, Greg and Caroline Costello and Patrick and Patti Costello of Salt Lake City, Utah; sister-in-law Joyce Lamb of Las Vegas, NV, and several nieces and nephews. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband of 35 years, Michael A. Costello.
Final arrangements in New Mexico are entrusted to Rivera Family Funeral Home. Due to COVID travel restrictions, a memorial service will be held at a later date in conjunction with Parzynski Funeral Home & Cremations LLC 626 Broad ave. Belle Vernon, when her daughters and their families can return to Belle Vernon and unite Elaine with her late husband Michael in the Belle Vernon Cemetery.
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