Tribute to George Costas

1929-2006

by Dennis Jones

In mid-October an old friend of mine, George Costas, died of apparent heart attack. He would have been 76 in December and lived in semi-exile in Beloit, Wisconsin, too many miles from his beloved Chicago.

As a youth, George worked for Col. Robert Rutherford McCormick, owner of The Chicago Tribune, as an office boy. But George thought the Colonel liked to have someone around off of whom to bounce ideas.

George attended Roosevelt University in Chicago but, as far as I know, received no degree. He said he couldn’t pass Freshman English. But he audited the University of Chicago Mathematics program as far as that program could take him. Maybe the Colonel was responsible for that favor.

The irony of his not being able to pass Freshman English is that he was a fine writer of poetry and lyric. He also wrote several plays. Well, he admitted to a mutual friend, Ed “The Fox” Mampel, that he kept a shaker filled with punctuations at hand and, as he wrote, would occasionally shake some over the page. Whatever stuck stayed.

He also wrote most of the campaign literature for the many political campaigns he managed with varied success. His intelligence prompted two-time mayoral candidate, John Hoellen to dub this son of Greek immigrants, Chicago’s Plato. And he entrusted to George the task of forming a bank and an offer to run it when it got going. George did set the bank up and got it running but declined the managerial offer.

I expect I’m not alone in saying I’ll miss him now he’s gone. Good luck George, wherever you are.

Dennis Jones is a philosopher who lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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