VALPARAISO | Former state Sen. William Costas was being remembered by family and friends as a man of faith and honesty Tuesday.
Costas, 84, died at his home.
"Anybody that knew my dad knew his faith meant more to him than anything else," his son Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas said. "He had a great love for God and the scripture and was quick to share that with anybody he came in contact with. He was always sharing how God changed his life and perspective."
In addition to serving two terms in the state Senate, Costas ran a successful grocery for many years. Jon Costas said his father started in the food business by working for his grandfather, who owned the Gary Produce Company in Gary.
"Dad was a buyer for him. He would take the train to the water market in Chicago every day to choose all the produce that Gary Produce would sell to the small stores."
William Costas convinced his grandfather that supermarkets were the wave of the future, and his grandfather opened Wilco Food Center in the Miller section of Gary in 1962. In 1970, William Costas left his grandfather's store and came to Valparaiso, where he opened Costas Foods in 1972.
Jon and his brother, Jay, joined their father's business in 1979 and the business expanded with stores in Chesterton and South Haven. William Costas retired and sold the stores to WiseWay in 1998.
He started his political career with a run for the U.S. Senate in 1978 against Richard Lugar and Richard Whitcomb. Jon Costas said his father went to every congressional district in the state to gather signatures to get on the ballot. He won Porter County but lost every other county in the state.
"He had such exuberance that, whenever he took on a task, he took it on with all his might," Jon Costas said.
After that, his friends said he should try something more local, and he won two terms in the state Senate, 1980-88, before losing his bid for a third term. He then focused on his business until his retirement, his son said.
"My dad has always been a great inspiration for me, and he encouraged me so much in my business and political efforts," Jon Costas said. "He was always there to give advice when I asked for it, and I certainly treasured his advice and asked for it often."
Jon Costas said his father had struggled with his health over the past 10 years but was still active. He was at the opening ceremonies for the Ind. 49 interchange at Vale Park Road in November and traveled to Greek Town in Chicago with Jon to visit Jon's daughter two week's ago.
"He certainly will be missed by all of us. It was a life well-lived. Those who knew him well say he had an incredible sense of honesty. He would share his failings as quickly as his successes. He was transparent and honest, and his faith showed through in all he did."
William's wife of 39 years, Diane, was with him when he died. The couple had six children.