John Costa, a hardcharging editor who left a big mark on newspapers in Florida and Oregon, died Tuesday (March 30, 2021). He was 76.

Mr. Costa and his wife had retired to Richmond, Virginia, to be close to their daughter and her family. He was out for a morning walk when he collapsed, apparently of heart failure.

A determined optimist, Mr. Costa never turned away from a challenge, confident that talent and energy could surmount almost any hurdle. He was devoted to his profession, to his family and to his country. He was a lifelong fan of the New York Yankees.

Born in Ossining, N.Y., Mr. Costa graduated from Villanova University in Philadelphia and promptly enlisted in the U.S. Army during the height of the Vietnam War. As a first lieutenant, he was posted as an intelligence officer and volunteered for combat during the Tet offensive in 1968.

When he left the Army, Mr. Costa became a reporter for his hometown newspaper in suburban New York. After covering a tanker truck of chlorine that was teetering off an overpass, he had drinks with another reporter who worked on the story. She would become his wife.

His biggest professional accomplishments came as an editor, leading reporters and directing news coverage. Over a journalism career that lasted a half-century, the two longest chapters were at the St. Petersburg (now Tampa Bay) Times and The Bulletin in Bend, Oregon.

When the St. Petersburg Times launched a major expansion into Tampa in 1987, Mr. Costa led the newsroom into that new territory. Eventually, that initiative led to the re-naming of the newspaper and the purchase of the Tampa Tribune.

In 1992, Mr. Costa left Florida for a mid-career sabbatical for journalists at the University of Michigan, and then headed west, first to Boise, Idaho and then to Central Oregon, where he was the editor and then publisher of The Bulletin for more than two decades.

During his tenure, the business climate for local newspapers deteriorated sharply, but Mr. Costa kept standards high and led the Bulletin with resolve and good cheer. He retired two years ago, as the family owners prepared to sell the newspaper as part of the company’s bankruptcy case.

Beyond his professional record, Mr. Costa leaves an accomplished family. His two sons hold Ph.D. degrees in science and math and hold senior positions at Nvidia, a technology company. His daughter is a lawyer for the State of Virginia, in its licensing of professionals.

He is survived by his wife Denise B. Costa; their three children, Anthony Costa and his wife, Allyson Costa, of Nyack, New York, Timothy Costa and his wife, Jennifer Costa, of Beaverton, Oregon, and Claire Costa Foley and her husband, Timothy Joseph Foley Jr., of Richmond, Virginia; five grandchildren, and his sister, Ann Bull of Ossining, New York.

In light of the pandemic, the family plans no immediate funeral services but will eventually scatter Mr. Costa’s ashes in the Hudson River, returning to his boyhood home. Donations in his honor can be made to Villanova University in Villanova, Pennsylvania.