PICTURE ROCKS - The late Tom Paternostro is a prevailing legacy and his name and spirit will continue to be a driving force for many more years to come.
On Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m., January 29, a memorial highway dedication ceremony took place at the George A. Ferrell Elementary School in Picture Rocks. The special event was presented by family members and legislators, Sen. Eugene Yaw and Rep. Garth Everett. The "Thomas A. Paternostro Memorial Highway", as it is named, will run on U.S. Route 220 from the Picture Rocks Borough line to the Hughesville Borough line.
Krista Paternostro Bower, who introduced and welcomed guests and speakers, spoke fondly of her father and shared some humorous and passionate memories. The process was long, she said about the highway, and was grateful for the support of Everett and Yaw who both knew him well.
BARB BARRETT/The Luminary
Senator Eugene Yaw was introduced and welcomed by Krista Paternostro Bower at the Thomas A. Paternostro Highway Dedication Ceremony Sunday afternoon at Ferrell Elementary School in Picture Rocks.
Senator Yaw commented that Tom always had a smile on his face and was willing to do anything for kids.
Photos and meaningful selections of Tom's memories, professional experiences and personal writings were chosen to share in a program everyone received. Editorials reflected his passion for education while he served in administrative positions at East Lycoming School District. A former colleague wrote, "He has been nicknamed 'Admiral' by his principalsThe Admiral is as unique as he is dedicated to excellenceHe is a mover and a shaker in the truest sense of the word."
Personal stories and valuable lessons from loved ones, his wife Marty of 49 years, his children and his grandchildren also were shared. Grandaughter Maria learned how to build a fire, son Tim is still trying to make a snow cave, and grandson, Jack misses the cabin and gardens that Tom loved so much. Often Tom enjoyed giving tours of the gardens and would send visitors home with something including the garbage man who would get tomatoes. Tom could mix well with anyone of any age.
"We all own special memories of our dad," said Bower. In 2006 Thomas A. Paternostro ran for Representative in the 84th District against Everett. "It was a cordial friendly, campaign," said Krista Bower and thanked Everett for his leadership and support to dedicate the highway in her father's honor. "I was more than willing," said Everett who spoke about his experiences working with Paternostro on the heroin task force and the origins of the East Lycoming YMCA. "It is an honor today," he added.
It has always been "a crusade to fix this dangerous stretch of highway" according to Bower and it took a community wide coalition led by her father that began in the 1980s to make the road safe. "It took 40 long years to get it done," she said. "This was an important cause for our dad. We experienced an important lesson from him - never stop pursuing the things you believe in."
During this time the late Thomas A. Paternostro was superintendent of East Lycoming School District for 11 years. "These were our informative years," Krista added. "Teachers played important roles and students strived to do their best. Children became his highest priority." He strove to improve education, he believed in serving all kids, he was a catalyst for excellence and he reminded everyone to never lose sight of the children.
After retirement from education, Paternostro took a position with the IMC (Industrial Modernization Center) and played a huge role with the school to work program and led speaking engagements in front of the U.S. Senate where he was featured on ABC news. He served as director of the Children's Advocacy Initiative for Lycoming County and received an award for it in 2004.
He supervised student teachers at Bloomsburg University and spent three years as a consultant for the Certification of Teacher Excellence in Washington D.C.
The late Paternostro also was involved in forming a coalition to improve the intersection of Rt. 42 and 118 by making constant calls to PennDot. "He was always on it."
To this day letters are sent to family members from those, including students, whose lives he has touched over the years.
"Our dad was a spark, a man of action. He painted a vision to get us there. His legacy is to encourage the next generation of children."
He passed away September 8, 2014 at the age of 75.