Neil Horn said Laflin resident Mike Costanza was “a friend to everybody,” and when he walked into a room, you knew he was there.
Costanza, 59, died Tuesday, and Horn and others said he will missed by many in the community, in part, because of his impact through volunteer service.
Costanza was involved in many community groups, such as Music Box Theater, the Catholic Youth Center, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Wilkes-Barre East Rotary, Bishop Hoban High School Parents Club, and boys and girls basketball at St. Nicholas/St. Mary’s Elementary School. He was a PIAA official and member of its board of directors.
His daughter, Lauren Costanza Haynes, wrote a brief tribute to her father on Facebook that generated many comments from people whose lives Costanza had touched.
She wrote: “We have lost a great hero. Loved and respected by so many, and the greatest man I have known. With a heavy heart, I want to inform everyone that my father, Michael Costanza, passed away late (Tuesday) night. He fought a strong battle the past few years, and is no longer suffering. I will miss him more than words can say, but promise to carry on his legacy of love, hard work, humor, and looking out for the underdog. You taught me well, daddio, I only hope I can make you proud.”
Horn, who knew Costanza for more than 30 years, said that when Costanza got involved with an organization or committee, he took over. Costanza also worked for Horn, the vice president of operations at McCarthy Tire, as the company’s vice president of corporate sales.
“When he got involved, he got involved heavy,” Horn said, adding that Costanza always insisted he work with him on every project or group. “Mike had two faults — he couldn’t say no to anybody and if you gave him a microphone, you could never get him to give it back.”
Horn recently visited with Costanza and noted that despite all he was going through, he never lost his sense of humor. “He went through hell the last two years,” Horn said.
Ron Evans, executive director of Catholic Social Services, said Costanza volunteered with Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Bridge for more than 20 years. He was a Big Brother to a young man for most of those years, Evans said.
“This is really very sad,” Evans said. “Mike was one of the first people I recruited for our advisory board, and he helped take us to another level.”
Evans said Costanza was instrumental in expanding the Bowl for Kids’ Sake event to become the organization’s major fundraiser.
“He would do anything for you,” said Evans. “He was very loyal for a long, long time. He will be greatly missed.”
Costanza’s obituary appears on Page 6A.