Paternostro passes away at 27
Brian Paternostro '07 died Sept. 12 from an ongoing battle with cancer. He was 27 years old and from Wethersfield, Conn. A part of the first midyear class at Brandeis, Paternostro was a triple major in Politics, Theater, and Peace, Conflict and Coexistence Studies.
During his time at Brandeis, Paternostro was the Ridgewood Quad senator and served two years on the Student Union's Executive Board. When he ran for Union Treasurer and lost, Paternostro placed a positive spin on his loss. In an interview with the Justice in an article dated Sept. 19, 2006 he said, "I ran because I wanted to see someone qualified and competent win, and that happened in this election, even though it wasn't me." His friends Adam Schwartzbaum '07, Alison Schwartzbaum '08, and Cindy Kaplan '08 remember how, "even in the face of adversity, Brian was defiant, and put on his best, most energetic effort."
Director of Student Activities Stephanie Grimes said in an interview with the Justice, "He had a lot of advocacy around the alcohol policy at student events and the student activity fee ... His philosophical mind combined with his energy and creativity made him not only a true Brandeisian but also someone who touched the lives of anyone he met."
In addition to serving on the Student Union, Paternostro was also "a champion of the Brandeis theater scene," Adam Schwartzbaum recalled. Paternostro directed Hair and produced many other shows for the Undergraduate Theater Collective, cofounded the Free Play Theatre Cooperative, and produced Culture X in his last semester at school.
At six feet six inches-the length of an extra-long twin college bed, he would quip-it was hard to miss Paternostro around campus, according to his friends. He was a Roman Catholic who fit right in at Yom Kippur services. According to Cindy Spungin, associate director of Hillel at Brandeis, Paternostro made a large effort to accommodate students' individual religious practices, letting students sit out from risqu?(c) scenes when he directed the Hillel Theater Group's production of Hair.
Cindy Kaplan '08 and former Student Union President Alison Schwartzbaum '08, who was a close friend of Paternostro, remember that he loved to write on walls. Schwartzbaum wrote in an email interview with the Justice, "To this day, I think about Brian every time I see a big white board, because Brian pushed Brandeis to install them all over the Student Union office so that we could literally draw our vision on the walls."
Adam Schwartzbaum, who lived with Paternostro in Ridgewood, recalls that, "Brian also took to writing on the walls in his home. His bedroom ... was covered in inspirational quotes and drawings ... In a way, the wall in his bedroom was a perfect metaphor for his personality: unorthodox, a little messy, but intimate, earnest, and endearing."
"Brian was a builder of families and communities," Kaplan remembers. "And somehow, those families often intertwined, and in the days since his passing, all of Brian's friends from all the different pockets of his experiences have reconnected, the way a true family does. Sharing photos and videos, stories and memories of Brian ... Brian brought his Brandeis community together again, just as he did so often in life."
After graduation, Paternostro moved to Philadelphia to work for United Way, a national system for volunteers and local community activists, according to its website. He is survived by his parents and brother.