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G. Frances Costelloe

1925 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
G. Frances Costelloe Obituary
G. Frances Costelloe

1925 - 2016 Brattleboro resident Gee Costelloe, the first woman to deliver a Brown University commencement address 70 years ago, died Tuesday, March 29, at age 90 in the Williamsville home of her daughter, Annie Landenberger. Born G. Frances Martin on May 7, 1925 in West Haven, Conn., to Frank J. and Gertrude Kurtz Martin, she had followed her brother, Edward, to the Ivy League university in Rhode Island. In an era still marked by the shocks of World War II, she urged fellow graduates to travel to help ensure peace. ``We must travel outside of our own country, study and live in foreign lands,' she said in her commencement address on June 17, 1946. ``We must, in short, become citizens of the world.' She acted in numerous shows while at Pembroke, then the women's college of Brown. A life-long lover of the theater, Gee could recite by heart whole passages from Shakespeare and other greats. After college, Gee moved to New York, working toward a masters degree and on various jobs to keep her going in the big city, eventually securing a position as a research associate for John F. Costelloe, Tax Director at RCA. In 1949 she married the young lawyer, who passed away in the Berkshires in 1993. Gee and John raised their three children during the turbulent 1960s in a huge and demanding old Centerport, Long Island house where ``don't mind the mess; we're remodeling' became her welcome call for friends and visitors with whom "there was never a dull moment." Dogs were treasured companions: Standard Poodles, a Cocker Spaniel and a noble Labrador-Collie mix led Gee to the conclusion that our four-legged friends could often be smarter and more reasonable than humans. In the 1980s, Gee moved to a handsome home built by her son, Paul, in the Berkshires, where she returned to full-time work as a development associate at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival. She then spent several years working in the law library at Boston College in Newton, Mass., before moving on to the Jesuit school's development office where she eventually became Manager of Prospect Research. Fueling her love of the lively arts, Gee worked as a development volunteer for the New Repertory Theater. She retired and lived for 16 years on High Street in Brattleboro before eventually settling into Bradley House assisted living. In Brattleboro she served several years on the board of the Friends of the Brooks Memorial Library and was a welcome contributor in several area writing groups for years. Following her own college commencement advice, she visited Rome, Frankfurt, Berlin, Stockholm, Singapore, Brussels, the Irish countryside, Venice and her beloved Paris. A true advocate for the arts, Gee volunteered backstage and wrote detailed, researched production notes for over 50 plays and other theatrical productions staged by her daughter, Annie, at Leland & Gray Union Middle & High School in Townshend, where she is theater director and English teacher. When asked about the enormous changes she'd witnessed in her life, Gee said: ``I've seen it all and heard it all, so nothing surprises me anymore.' Gee was a champion of the background people: Her mechanic, plumber and electrician were just as important as her colleagues, in Gee's eyes. She was a dear friend and true guide for the many who sought her wisdom and counsel: She made all who encountered her feel important-- because they are. Family was Gee's deepest love: She leaves daughter Annie; son Kevin and his wife, Barbara, of Rome, Italy; son Paul and his wife, Annie, of Washington, Mass.; Bruce Landenberger of Newfane; eight grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and a fifth on the way; numerous nieces and nephews and many friends from Wellfleet to Boston, New York to northern Italy. FUNERAL SERVICE: A funeral Mass is planned for June 26, 1PM at St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church in Brattleboro, where she was a parishioner. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Friends of the Brooks Memorial Library, 224 Main Street, Brattleboro, Vermont, 05301, or to the Leland and Gray Educational Foundation-memo: Leland and Gray Players,P0 Box 449, Newfane, VT05345.
Published in Brattleboro Reformer on Apr. 9, 2016
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