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Rita Mehalko Costello of Portsmouth, an Old Dominion alumna and former member of the Alumni Association board of directors, died Sept. 25, 2007, at the age of 85.

She was a long-time supporter of her alma mater and, in her words, her main focus was "to continue striving to do all I can to further the goals of ODU." She had been scheduled to receive a Town-N-Gown Community Service Award at the university's Founders' Day program on Oct. 19.

Born in Pennsylvania and raised in Suffolk, Costello attended the Norfolk Division of the College of William and Mary and Old Dominion College.

Since her retirement as an administrative officer from the Norfolk Naval Shipyard with 35 years of service, her life was defined by involvement in her community and volunteerism. She served on the boards of the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross and Town-N-Gown, among many others. Costello was a member of St. Paul's Catholic Church.

She was the recipient of the WAVY-TV Jefferson Award and the Strong, Smart and Bold Woman Award from the Girls Club of Portsmouth.

Costello was also a master gardener and water steward with the Virginia Extension Program and a member of the River Stars Committee for the Elizabeth River Project. At the time of her death, she was the president of the Tidewater District of the Virginia Federation of Garden Clubs.

Survivors include her sister, Anna Marie Runyon of Williamsburg; a brother, George T. Mehalko of Falls Church, Va.; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.

A graveside service will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, Oct. 1, in Holly Lawn Cemetery, Suffolk. The family will receive friends from 4-6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30, in Foster Funder Home, Portsmouth. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to St. Paul's Catholic Church, Restoration Fund, 518 High St., Portsmouth, VA 23704.

This article was posted on: September 27, 2007

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