Calling hours are 1 to 5 p.m. and 6 to 9:30 p.m. on Thursday at Our Lady of the Lake R.C. Church in Sparta. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday at the same location.
Paternostro, 67, died on Monday at Morristown Medical Center. The veteran coach spent 43 seasons on the sidelines at the Sparta school and retired this past spring as New Jersey's all-time wins leader with an overall mark of 373-67-5. His teams won 19 Sussex County Interscholastic League titles and 18 NJSIAA Non-Public championships -- a remarkable run all at one school.
Paternostro battled a heart condition, diabetes and chronic hip problems for a number of years. The burly coach had to leave a game at halftime to go to the hospital in 2009, the contest in which he recorded win No. 362 to pass Warren Wolf on the state's all-time wins list. Pope John beat Mendham, 34-8, that day.
The Lions went 10-1 in 2010 -- his final season at the helm. His retirement last spring was broiled in controversy as Paternostro claimed he was being "forced out," after the school hired an assistant coach without his approval. That coach, Brian Carlson, took over the program in 2011.
I have some fond memories of Paternostro, whose teams I covered from 1997 to 2000 when I worked at the New Jersey Herald in Newton. Paternostro was always accommodating to me and made my job a lot easier. Of course, we had some differences of opinion, mostly during All-Area time, but he always listened and generally accepted my reasons for and against his players' selections. He was an intimidating figure to be certain, but I always found him very approachable and enjoyed our numerous conversations before and after games -- even the losses.
My heart goes out to his family at this difficult time. Sussex County lost a great one on Monday. God speed, Vic.