Paul Costello, 69, passed away Oct. 8, 2016, at his Fairbanks home, after fighting a three-year battle with cancer. His wife, son and sister helped him through his last days. Paul met his college sweetheart, Patricia Molka, at Syracuse University, and, after graduating, married in 1969. They celebrated their honeymoon on the drive north to Fort Wainwright, where he was stationed as an officer in the Army Corp of Engineers. He was honorably discharged as a captain 21/2 years later. A son arrived in 1972, and, together, the three made Fairbanks their home. In his professional life, Paul described himself as a public servant, and his dedication to mentoring and training young professionals endeared to him to many throughout the Interior. In the early 1970s, he landed his first job with the Bureau of Land Management, running the Youth Conservation Corp, building public use cabins and trails in the White Mountains. BLM later reassigned him as a land man, where it was his job to identify traditional Alaska Native land claims and transfer them to Native ownership under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. During the historic period of ANCSA and preconstruction of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, he was asked to join the Interior Village Association, whose role it was to help villages manage their newly formed corporate governance. During his time with IVA, Paul traveled extensively throughout the Yukon River Drainage and developed lifelong friendships. For the last two decades before retiring in 2013, Paul directed the Fairbanks North Star Borough Land Management Department, where he worked with borough residents and developers to transfer lands from public to private ownership. His even temperament and loyalty to the people working with him were a good fit serving under several mayors, explaining complex land deals to assembly members, and negotiating subdivision lot sizes and layouts with surrounding neighborhood organizations. Among many of his department's accomplishments was the development of numerous subdivisions, land auctions, timber sales, purchases of sites for community parks, schools, waste transfer facilities and the North Pole Library. Paul was a loving and caring family man and husband. He ran dogs for more than 40 years with his wife and son and enjoyed many Thanksgivings with friends in Northway, running dogs, snowmobiling and sharing food, laughter and epic adventures. He looked forward each spring to dip-netting in Chitina, boating along Interior rivers and fishing out of Valdez on his boat, Cmates. He enjoyed whiskey sours, ice cream, buying flowers for his sweetheart, napping on the floor with his favorite dog, working in the garden barefoot and corresponding with friends and families. His greatest joy, though, were his three grandchildren, and he was always eager for sleepovers, reading, camping, birthdays and outdoor adventures. He was preceded in death by his parents, Paul and Adele Costello; and his favorite lead dog, Popeye. He is survived by his wife, Patricia Costello; son and daughter-in-law, David Costello and Christine Jane Russell; grandchildren, Scout, Oliver and Elsie; sister, Nancy Costello; and nephew and family, Nick and Lindsay Weber, and grandnephews, Jack and Luke. A celebration of life and potluck will be held at 3 p.m. Oct. 23 at the Birch Hill Cross Country Ski Center. Bring a picture of Paul to share, if you would like. Donations in memory of Paul may be made to hospice or the Guys Read Program.
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