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Former Saints strength and conditioning coach Russell Paternostro dead at 71

A long-time member of the New Orleans Saints family and a popular former coach is gone.

Former New Orleans Saints strength and conditioning coach Russell Paternostro has passed away. He was 71-years old.

Affectionately known to his friends as "Stretch," Paternostro died from respiratory complications, according to family members.

Paternostro worked for the Saints from 1981-1996, spanning four head coaches in Bum Phillips, Wade Phillips, Jim Mora and Rick Venturi. He attended San Diego State University. Owner John Mecom brought him to New Orleans three weeks before he hired Phillips.

An unabashed fan of the New Orleans area and a native of Westwego, Paternostro attended West Jefferson High School.  Paternostro decided to make his home on the northshore after his coaching career ended. He lived in Mandeville and was hospitalized at St. Tammany Hospital. The visitation and funeral mass will take place on Wednesday, January 2 at St. Peter Catholic Church, 125 19th Ave. in Covington. Visitation starts at 10 a.m. with the service set for 2 p.m.

Here is the official death notice and funeral information:


Russell Joseph Paternostro passed away on Friday, December 28, 2012 at age 71.

He leaves his beloved wife of 48 years, Mercedes Paternostro, his children Angela Paternostro, Robyn Ortego and spouse Tommy. He also leaves his adored grandsons Derek Paternostro, Brandon and Jonathon Ortego.

Russell dedicated his life to the pursuit of wellness and sports fitness. He was the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the New Orleans Saints from 1980-1996. Through numerous other ventures, he demonstrated his passion and devotion for helping people attain their health goals. He was the 2005 Award Recipient of the Emrich Riecke Jones Presidential Award for his exceptional accomplishments in the field of sports strength and conditioning. He was currently working with the St. Tammany Parish DA’s Office.

A native of New Orleans, he was a resident of Covington, La for the past 26 years. A friend and mentor to so many, Russell will be remembered for his undying passion for people.

Relatives and friends of the family are invited to attend the funeral service at St. Peter Catholic Church, 125 19th Ave.( Corner of Jefferson Ave. and E.19th Ave.), Covington, LA 70433 on Wednesday, January 2, 2013. Visitation, AT THE CHURCH, will be at 10:00 AM. Church services will begin at 2:00 PM. Interment in Pinecrest Memorial Gardens.


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