Obituary of Dr. Matthew W. Costanzo
Dr. Matthew W. Costanzo, former Superintendent of Schools for the School District of Philadelphia, died Monday, November 11, 2019 (Veterans Day) at AtlantiCare Mainland after a brief illness. Born in Philadelphia, he was the son of the late Charles and Lena (DiMauro) Costanzo.
He attended Tilden Jr. H.S. and John Bartram H. S. before enlisting in the US Army Air Corp, serving in France during WWII. He returned to Philadelphia and receive his BA and MA in Education from Temple University. He later earned his Doctorate of Education from Columbia University. He served in the Philadelphia Public Schools as Vice Principal of Shoemaker Jr. H.S., Principal of Andrew Jackson Elementary School, Superintendent of District 2, Associate Superintendent for Field Operations and finally Superintendent of Schools from 1971-1975. During his tenure, he fought relentlessly for funding for the schools including many well documented fights with then Mayor Frank Rizzo.
In addition, he successfully navigated the District through the longest teacher’s strike in Philadelphia’s history and created many innovative programs such as Magnet Schools and Early Childhood initiatives. After retiring from the School District of Philadelphia, he served as superintendent in Haddonfield (NJ), Pennsbury, Haverford Township, and Pennsbury, and Phoenixville School Districts before beginning his second career as an Executive Retirement Councilor at Lincoln Investment Planning for the past 30 years.
He and his wife, Sandra (Palmeri) Costanzo were members of St. Nicholas of Tolentine Catholic Church, Atlantic City, where they faithfully attended Saturday evening mass before enjoying dinner with friends and family or an evening of big band music or ballroom dancing. They truly enjoyed their life together in Northfield NJ on the 2nd Tee of the Atlantic City Golf Course, where golfers said they always heard strains of Frank Sinatra and the ice in cocktail shaker of Manhattans from behind the hedges.
In addition to his wife, Sandy, he is survived by a daughter Valarie Costanzo and husband Larry Melton of Cherry Hill, NJ. Brothers, Dominic of Havertown and Anthony and wife Rosemary, of Phoenixville. He is predeceased by his first wife, Glorya (Faustino) Costanzo, son, Harry, and sister Marie Siderio.
A Service of Remembrance to celebrate Matt’s life will be held on Sunday, November 17, 2019, at 2:00 PM at St. Nicholas of Tolentine Catholic Church, 1409 Pacific Ave. Atlantic City, NJ. Visitation will be held in the church from 1:15 until 2:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the “Restoration Fund – St. Nicholas”, C/O Parish of St. Monica, 2651 Atlantic Ave., Atlantic City, NJ 08401.