School 21

Joseph Peter Costa

May 15, 1947 ~ July 7, 2023 (age 76) 76 Years Old


Joseph Peter Costa was born May 15, 1947 in Syracuse, New York. He grew up in Syracuse graduating from Henninger High School in 1965. While in high school he was on the track team. Joe also formed a rock n roll band, he being the drummer, called the Knights Five playing at dances and local venues. After graduating he attended Syracuse University majoring in Art History. He graduated in 1969 with a BA in Art History. Not ready yet to settle into a career, he traveled to California and stayed several months. He decided Syracuse was a better fit for him, discovering teaching was his forte. He started out as a substitute teacher for a year and was offered a permanent position at East Syracuse-Minoa (ESM). Here he found his niche! Joe taught Advance Placement Art History with an emphasis on his favorite Renaissance man, Michelangelo. Anthropology and Humanities were courses he also taught with a focus on Eskimo culture.
During his 23 years at ESM Joe had the opportunity to organize student trips along with a fellow teacher to Italy for many years during summer breaks. These he enjoyed immensely. Joe also helped with senior trips to domestic locales such as New York City.
Joe, early on in his career, got "bit" by the photography bug. At first he started with family photos etc. and with time and experience advanced to weddings and portraits. He enjoyed the challenge of developing his own photos at home in his Dark Room.
However, his creative juices drew him towards nature and travel photography. This passion fit perfectly with his opportunities to travel to new places including Africa.
Joe was always seeing beauty as evidenced by his massive photographic work.
Joe married soon after his teaching career began, thus starting his family, a son and a daughter, both joys of his life. Being a Dad was a special privilege, a role he took seriously. The kids too, eventually attended ESM.
In 1988 Joe co-organized and guided an adult tour to Italy. On this trip he met his future wife. After much thought and angst decided to leave his teaching position at ESM and move to Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Here he began a whole new chapter of his life.
Finishing up his Masters in Education at University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire, he was offered a position as a student teacher advisor, a job both rewarding and frustrating. At the same time he decided to open a photography studio in his home specializing in portraits and weddings. And because he didn't think he had enough to do, also taught Humanities at Lakeland College in Chippewa Falls two evenings a week!
After several years at UWEC, Joe was offered full time teaching through the Art Department, which was a better fit for him and much more rewarding. He taught Art History to the non-major students and a new course of study, History of Photography and Native American Studies. That change opened up time for more travel, trips to Greece, Italy, Ireland, Canada and many domestic locations; and along the way lots of breathtaking photos.
As children are apt to do, they grow up and have families. Joe was blessed with 3 grandsons and 1 granddaughter, all bringing joy and laughter to his life.
At the age of 62 Joe decided he was too old and cranky to do weddings and closed the studio. He also retired from UWEC. Now was the time to take life leisurely. Earlier in his years Joe had enjoyed camping trips to relax and photograph. He was greatly influenced by his youthful years spent in Boy Scouts. He now had more free time to do outdoor adventures hiking and kayaking. This was the period of his life he and his wife spent traveling the USA. One of the final fun trips was a land and sea cruise to Alaska. Clear skies and breathtaking vistas!
And as ALL his family and friends knew, if Joe had a camera in one hand he had an Avanti cigar in the other!

Throughout the years Joe had a quiet faith, sometimes faint. However as time went on his faith grew deeper as he went on several Catholic retreats. He returned to Mass. Joe began much reading about Catholicism and saints. This study gave him much solace and was invaluable when his physical health started to deteriorate.
After his diagnosis of Parkinson's at 70, Joe slowed up only a bit. However, when the condition worsened too quickly, he was correctly diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). This condition stopped him from photographing as his hands no longer could operate his cameras and lenses. It also took away his voice. The stiffening of his muscles and loss of balance confined him to home. However, because Joe was forever organizing his work, his computer screensaver had thousands of photos of family, trips, architecture and nature.
He would sit, enjoy and reminisce. He had a full life to review.
Kathy was determined to care for him at home. As his condition progressed, he had an additional diagnosis of cancer. At that moment they were blessed with an outstanding Hospice team. While at home in bed in his nest, Joe quietly passed with his wife and daughter at his side finally free of all limitations.

Joe was preceded in death by both parents, caring aunt and uncle and his beloved sister.

He is survived by his wife, Kathy, mother of his children, Linda, his son, David, his daughter, Laura (Tommy), step-daughter, Andrea (Andy), step-son, Sam (Julie), grandchildren, Andre, Tyler, Bella and Danny, step-grandchildren, Owen, Charlie, Calvin and Autumn.

In lieu of flowers please consider donating to your favorite charity or organization in honor of Joe. A memorial mass will be held on Monday, July 17, 2023 at 10 AM at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Eau Claire. A private, graveside service will be held at a later date at Assumption Cemetery in Syracuse, NY. Arrangements were entrusted to Lenmark-Gomsrud-Linn Funeral and Cremation Services in Eau Claire, WI. Online condolences for Joe's family may be sent to

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July 17, 2023

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
St. Patrick's Catholic Church


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