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Thomas A. Paternostro

Sep 16, 2014

Thomas A. Paternostro, 75, of Unityville, passed away peacefully, surrounded by his loving family, on Sept. 8, 2014, at Geisinger Medical Center four days following a cancer diagnosis.

Tom was born in Williamsport on Aug. 9, 1939, and was the son of the late Angelo and Eneis Paternostro. He was married to Marthalie Ryan Paternostro for over 48 years. They would have celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary on Nov. 27, 2014.

Tom was a lifelong educator. He cared passionately about and was an advocate for children during his 47-year distinguished career. He worked his entire life to “make our children our highest priority,” a mantra he talked about time and time again. He was both an elementary and secondary school teacher before serving as an elementary principal in Prattsburgh, N.Y. He then served as superintendent of schools in the Clifton-Fine School District in Star Lake, N.Y. and the Oneonta City School District in Oneonta, N.Y. In 1981, he became superintendent of schools at the East Lycoming School District in Hughesville, where he served admirably for 11 years.

Following his retirement from public schools in 1992, Tom went to work for the Industrial Modernization Center in Montoursville where he was a driving force behind the Pennsylvania School-to-Work initiative, a project that ultimately became a national model for youth apprenticeship. He testified about this initiative in front of a United States Senate committee and was later featured on the ABC News American Agenda and in Smithsonian Magazine.

Continuing his dedicated service to public education and children, Tom served as the director of the Children’s Advocacy Initiative for Lycoming County in the early 2000’s. In 2004, he received the Child Advocate Award for Leadership on Children’s Issues.

From 2005-2011, following an appointment by the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education, Tom served as one of the Commonwealth’s first Distinguished Educators, individuals serving to help struggling districts throughout the state improve student achievement.

In 2006, based on a submission from his daughter, Tom was featured in the book, Wisdom of Our Fathers, Lessons & Letters from Daughters and Sons, written by the late NBC News Anchor, Tim Russert. In addition to the vignette, a photo of Tom and his daughter was included to begin one of the book’s chapters.

Tom was always an active member of his community no matter where he lived. He gave selflessly to others through his numerous community activities and projects. Most recently, he served as a member of the Lycoming County Heroin Drug Task Force.

In his free time, Tom was an avid gardener, writer, public speaker and seminar leader. He loved baseball and played from the age of 7 as a member of the LL Stearns Little League, a passion he continued all of the way through his time in the Navy.

Tom was a man of strong faith and believed that only love and peace exist in Heaven where he now lives.

He was a 1957 graduate of the former St. Mary’s High School in Williamsport. He was a 1964 graduate of Lycoming College where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. In 1975, he received his Masters of Public Administration from St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y. He continued his education at St. Lawrence, accumulating an additional 60 graduate hours toward his doctorate degree.

He proudly and honorably served his country in the U.S. Navy from 1957-1965, including time spent in the Naval Reserve. He attended Naval Communications School as well as Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I. He received a special commendation from the Chief of Naval Operations for his Far East service following his time spent in Japan.

Surviving are his wife of 48 years, the former Marthalie Ryan; two sons, Thomas C. (Lucy) Paternostro, of Muncy, Timothy R. (Mary Cay) Paternostro, of Bloomsburg; and a daughter, Krista P. (James) Bower, of Williamsport; two grandsons, Nicholas Paternostro and Jack Paternostro; and four granddaughters, Kathryn Paternostro, Abigail Paternostro, Maria Paternostro, and Josephine Florence Morgan, of Orangeville.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his youngest daughter, Kathleen Paternostro Morgan, in July 2012.

Tom’s family would like to thank the medical team at Geisinger Medical Center for the care and compassion they showed Tom and their entire family during this difficult time.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at 10 a.m. Saturday at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, 100 Walnut St., Montoursville, with his pastor, the Rev. John K. Manno, officiating. Interment was at Resurrection Cemetery in Montoursville.

The family received family and friends at the Crouse Funeral Home, 133 E. Third St., Williamsport, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday evening.

For a complete obituary, please visit www.crousefuneralhome.com.