Paul Gerald Costin

Paul Gerald Costin

FAIRFAX, Virginia — Paul Costin moved out of the village more than 20 years ago, but “his heart stayed in Altamont,” said his daughter, Sheila Costin.

“Everyone that he would talk to in his new neighborhood could tell you more about Altamont than probably half of the people in Albany County,” Ms. Costin said.

It meant a great deal to Mr. Costin to live in a place where each member of the community looked out for one another, his daughter said.

Mr. Costin died on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Fairfax, Virginia. He was 83.

Paul Gerald Costin was born in Troy in December 1937.

Mr. Costin was born to a single mother, Jane Curtin Costin, who worked in a department store in the Collar City, his daughter said.

Mr. Costin’s mother was older when she had him and Paul worked from a young age, a paper route, “which was a big deal then,” and he was able to pay his own way through high school, Ms. Costin said.

Mr. Costin went to LaSalle Institute in Troy, a Catholic high school, as did the woman who would become his wife, Barbara Lazzo, although she was a few years behind him in school, Ms. Costin said — however, the two did not begin dating until after she had graduated from high school.

Ms. Costin said that her parents met through a mutual friend. 

That friend would go on to become the best man at her parents’ wedding, Ms. Costin said.

Mr. Costin and his friends were “very Catholic then,” she said; they were all involved in the church. 

It may seem quaint today, but at the time, even though everyone was Catholic, there were ethnic divides within the church congregations — Mr. Costin was Irish-Catholic and Ms. Lazzo was of Polish and Eastern European descent. 

“By the time they got married, their communities were different and they had a little bit of a hard time getting somebody to marry them,” Ms. Costin said. “Because they were so ‘different,’ which is pretty funny nowadays.” 

After high school, Mr. Costin went to photography school in New York City.

In his career, Mr. Costin did wedding photography; worked for a newspaper; he then moved to television, channels 10 and 17; and in the mid-’70s, he went to work for the State Senate, doing all manner of multi-media work.

Ms. Lazzo went right to work after graduation, managing a doctor’s office.

The couple married in 1962.

The Costins raised their family in Altamont, where they moved in 1965.

Starting in the late ’70s, from the time Ms. Costin was in eighth grade, she said, the family hosted foreign exchange students. Over the years, five students — from Mexico, Japan, Denmark, and Sweden — stayed with the Costin family as part of the Rotary Exchange Program. 

“People from all over the world became friends with us — part of our family really,” Ms. Costin said. She married a Jewish man with Argentine parents and the husband of her sister, Bridgette Costin Khoo, has parents who are from Singapore.

“We have a very diverse family all because my mom and dad kind of led the way,” she said. 

Asked why her parents hosted exchange students, Ms. Costin said that they “had a lot of love to give,” adding, as she and her sister got older, her parents had thought it would be a good experience for the entire Costin clan to have someone from another culture live with the family, “to broaden our horizon.” 

Mr. Costin retired in 1999. 

The Costins moved to Virginia to be closer to their daughters who had children of their own by that point. Ms. Costin went to law school in the area and her sister followed a few years later, she said, and the sisters never left. 

Mr. Costin was an avid gardener, his daughter said, “so, he had the most beautiful garden in his community.”

The couple also traveled, Ms. Costin said; other friends had retired by the time her parents moved South and so their friends visited them. Her parents also visited the European exchange students they had hosted decades earlier.

Mr. Costin “participated in planning the annual Altamont Fair and in creating the Guilderland Performing Arts Center,” his family wrote in a tribute. “He remained a faithful reader of The Altamont Enterprise throughout his life to keep current with the local happenings.” 

Asked to describe her father’s personality, Ms. Costin said her father was, “as you can tell by the exchange students, incredibly loving and kind … He truly never had a bad word to say about anyone, he was a very gentle and kind guy.”

He taught Ms. Costin and her sister the importance of becoming involved in the community, she said.

Her father had a saying, Ms. Costin said, “Don’t be an 80-percenter — he wanted us to give 100 percent.” It was a saying Mr. Costin would come to regret, Ms. Costin said, “because we were very busy.” Her father was “incredibly” hardworking, she said, driven by his meager start in life. 

But he was “very proud” of what his daughters accomplished in life — Ms. Costin is a lawyer and Ms. Costin Khoo is a musician and teacher — and of his grandchildren, “who surpassed us,” Ms. Costin said. 


Paul Gerald Costin is survived by his daughters, Bridgette Costin Khoo and Sheila Costin, and their husbands; and by his three grandchildren. 

His wife, Barbara, died in 2016.

— Sean Mulkerrin


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