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Tireless helper of homeless, elderly dies

Thu., Sept. 18, 2008

Army vet, former bartender Bruno Costa put his faith to work

Bruno D. Costa, consummate volunteer and friend to Spokane’s homeless and elderly, died Friday of natural causes. He was 71.

“He had a soft spot for the poor and veterans,” said his sister, Mira Anzalone, of Spokane.

In the summer of 2005, Costa was the subject of a front-page article in The Spokesman-Review about the lives he had touched through his volunteerism with Catholic Charities.

“You’re supposed to do things for people,” Costa told the newspaper.

And he did. He drove senior citizens to doctor appointments and to grocery stores. He collected food donations for the homeless. He delivered meals to the homebound.

He was a driver for the House of Charity homeless shelter for many years.

“Even after he quit driving for us, he would come by and pick up all the empty milk crates and take them back to Safeway,” said Ed McCarron, House of Charity director. “He was inspired by the Lord to help people and was concerned for his fellow man.”

A devout Roman Catholic, he attended 6:30 a.m. Mass daily at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes before putting his faith to work, much of it carried out in his ’92 Ford Taurus.

“I appreciated him,” said Laura Faulkner, a resident of Cathedral Plaza, a downtown apartment complex for seniors.

“We did depend on him, and sometimes we felt he was doing too much.”

Never married, Costa lived alone at Cathedral Plaza, where Italian and U.S. flags waved from his balcony.

Costa was born Jan. 29, 1937, in Spokane, the third child of Italian immigrants Domenico and Antonietta Costa, and raised in Clayton, Wash. He went to grade school in Clayton and high school in Deer Park.

After attending Gonzaga University, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Germany in the late 1950s.

He worked as a bartender for 17 years at the former Flamingo Restaurant in north Spokane.

After retiring nearly a quarter of a century ago, he devoted his life to volunteerism.

A Mass of Christian Burial for Costa will begin at 10 a.m. today at the Cathedral.

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