MONTEREY – Nancy Weill Costello, a fourth generation resident of Monterey died at her home Friday, November 8th shorly after her 95th birthday. For the past forty five years Nancy has been known for her work of taking food to the needy families of the Salinas Valley. Her truck--she wore out many through the years--could be found mornings at the Safeway Store at the mouth of the Carmel Valley and Trader Joes in Pacific Grove where she loaded it with the surplus food from these stores. She would then head to Salinas and farm labor camps down the Salinas valley to distribute the food as well as clothes and bedding donated by many friends. Nancy's work has been featured in local and national news features. In 2007 she was chosen a local finalist for the prestigious Jefferson Award and went on to Washington D.C. where she received a national award for community service.
Nancy's roots in California went back to the era of the gold rush as her great grandfather, Bradley Varnum Sargent, and three of his brothers journeyed to California in search of gold. The four amassed a large land holding in central California including Rancho San Carlos in Carmel Valley and a ranch in South Monterey County which Nancy's grandfather ran until his death.
Nancy was born in San Francisco, the daughter of Harriet Sargent Weill of Monterey and Stuart I Weill. As a child, she lived in New Jersey until her father's death when Nancy was eight years old at which time the family returned to Monterey. She attended Monterey schools, Salinas Junior College (now Hartnell College) and Dominican College in San Rafael.
Just before the outbreak of war in 1941, Nancy married James G. (Jimmy) Costello who had joined the Monterey Herald in 1939 as a reporter. Even with severe asthma, Jimmy went off to the Army, and Nancy, first with one and then with two young children, followed him to Long Beach, CA, Texas, and North Carolina, returning to Monterey when Jimmy was sent to France. While Jimmy was in France, Nancy moved into the Stokes Adobe on Hartnell Street with Jimmy's mother and grandmother.
In 1946, just before Jimmy returned from France, Nancy purchased the home in Monterey where she was to reside for the rest of her life. Jimmy returned to work at the Herald, serving as City Editor and Editor of the Weekend Magazine. The house in Monterey was expanded several times to accommodate the growing Costello family. Nancy was the mother of six: daughters, Molly Gouge (Don), of Asheville, North Carolina; Julie Hook (Malcolm) of Aurora, Oregon; Joan Costello (Bill Hyslop) of Watsonville; and three sons: Jim (Jeanne) of Port Townsend, Washington; Mick (Shealagh) of Georgetown, Kentucky; and the late Peter Costello.
Nancy had six grandchildren: Col.Ty Seidule (Shari) of West Point, New York; Nancy Hauth (Dennis) of Portland, Oregon; Amy Seidule of Ashville, North Carolina; Sara Costello of San Francisco; Patrick Costello (Tracy Evans) of Fort Collins, Colorado; and the late Kevin Costello. She had four great-grandchildren: Peter and Wade Seidule and Abby and Sophie Hauth.
Since Nancy's health began to falter in May, a group of volunteers has continued her work of feeding those in need. Nancy's Project was formed as a nonprofit corporation several years ago as a means of accepting donations. The first donation was the one ton flat-bed truck that Nancy drove for over 200,000 miles before turning over the keys to her helpers in May.
A service will be held at Saint Dunstan's Episcopal Church in Carmel Valley on Sunday, November 17, 2013 at 3:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Nancy's Project, P.O. Box 1, Monterey CA 93940 - so that Nancy's work can continue - or to Nancy's scholarship fund at All Saints School.
Published in Monterey Herald on Nov. 12, 2013.