Dec. 27, 1944 — March 10, 2019
His family agreed that Nicholas C. Costantino went into the practice of law because his parents gave their children a choice: "Education or education."
Mr. Costantino cherished the one he got at Bennett High School, wearing the school's logo in his lapel as a symbol of what he had learned there, which his family described as "hard work, loyalty and how to play well in the sandbox with others."
Mr. Costantino, a onetime chief in the Erie County District Attorney's Office and a third-party candidate in the 1985 Buffalo mayoral race, died March 10, 2019, in Buffalo General Hospital. The Williamsville resident was 74.
Mr. Costantino was the first son of Bertha Siegel and Anthony P. Costantino, who served as Buffalo's deputy fire commissioner under Mayors Frank A. Sedita and Stanley M. Makowski. He had a brother, Henry, a sister, Connie, and a second sister, called "Baby" by the family, who died shortly after birth.
Mr. Costantino attended School 22 and Bennett High School, graduating in 1962. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University at Buffalo in 1967 and a law degree from the John Marshall Law School in Chicago in 1971. In his final year of law school, he taught middle-school science in what his family described as an inner-city school.
He then returned to Western New York, where he was hired to work in the District Attorney's Office in 1974.
Mr. Costantino, known as Nick, met Karen Biel on a blind date, but not on the first try. In 1985, Mrs. Costantino told a Buffalo News reporter that she missed the first blind date with her husband-to-be because she was late getting home from another date. Their mutual friends set up a second date. They married on June 21, 1974.
Mr. Costantino worked for 13 years in the DA's Office. He ran unsuccessfully for Buffalo City Court in 1978 and in 1979.
He was chief of the Major Violent Offense Bureau when he resigned in 1985 to run for Buffalo mayor as candidate of the Liberal and independent Better Buffalo parties, opposing incumbent James Griffin and George K. Arthur.
Mr. Costantino's platform stressed the need to fight crime. "I live in the city, and safe streets are vital," said Mr. Costantino, who lived on Jewett Parkway with his wife and four children, Nicole, Justin, Eric and Andrew. They later had a fifth child, Nicholas.
That year, Griffin lost the Democratic primary to Arthur. Running on the Republican line, Griffin beat Arthur 53 percent to 43 percent. Mr. Costantino got 3.6 percent of the vote.
In 1988, while he was in private practice, Mr. Costantino was one of a dozen attorneys who submitted their names to then-Gov. Mario Cuomo to succeed succeed Richard Arcara as interim district attorney.
Mr. Costantino had a private law practice for more than 30 years, with his office at Main Street and Fillmore Avenue. His son Andrew said, "He did a little of everything; he did real estate law and defense work all over New York, predominantly Western New York, but he would travel for other cases."
Mr. Costantino was an active member of Butler Mitchell Alumni, which supported youth activities on the West Side.
His family said Mr. Costantino "worked passionately to keep Bennett High open when it was in jeopardy of closing," playing an active role on the Bennett High School Redesign Committee, which formed in 2014. He was also an honorary Bennett High School football coach.
During his college years, Mr. Costantino was a defensive end for the Lackawanna Lancers semi-professional football team. Through the years, he served on multiple high school committees to set up their sports halls of fame.
Besides his daughter Nicole Costantino, four sons, Justin, Andrew, Eric and Nicholas Costantino, Mr. Costantino is survived by his brother Henry Costantino; 20 grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Friday in St. Luke's Mission of Mercy, 325 Walden Ave.