Colleagues express respect for 'Mr. Sto-Rox'
Bill Palermo began to praise his mentor, a man he had known for nearly half a century, when he suddenly stopped to correct himself.
"So many decisions that I made, I would think, 'What would Eddie ... I mean, what would Mr. Pastin have done?' " said Palmero, who recently retired as Sto-Rox athletic director.
Palermo's mentor was Ed Pastin, a longtime coach, administrator and official in the area — and someone Palermo, 63, refuses to address by his first name, out of respect.
Recognized primarily for starting the athletics program at Sto-Rox High School, Pastin passed away Sunday at Country Meadows Retirement Community in Bridgeville. He was 92.
Pastin was the head football coach at the old Stowe High School from 1959-65 before becoming an athletic director in 1966 and overseeing the merger of Stowe and McKees Rocks districts to create Sto-Rox. He worked as the school's AD until he retired in 1982.
Pastin went to Waynesburg College and played halfback for the Yellow Jackets. He was part of the first televised football game, between Waynesburg and Fordham University, on Sept. 30, 1939 at Boroughs Stadium on New York's Randall Island.
After graduating from Waynesburg with a bachelor's degree in education, Pastin served in the U.S. Army during World War II and was part of the occupation forces in the Philippines and Japan as the war came to an end.
A few years later, he decided to get into teaching and coaching.
Palermo, who played football for Pastin, said team members would often laugh at Pastin's reluctance to cuss, which, in fits of rage, would force the coach to use such phrases such as "gosh darnit" and "gee willikers."
"That's one thing I wish I could have taken after him a little bit more," quipped Palermo, who coached softball at Sto-Rox for 32 years, winning 10 WPIAL titles and 555 games. "Some of the guys would give him a hard time and say, 'We're at football practice, coach; you can let it fly.' But he never did, and I always respected him for that."
One of Pastin's two grandchildren, Anthony, played football at Montour in the early 2000s. And despite being more than 80, Pastin would regularly stand on a nearby hillside and watch practice, scribbling notes and plays that he diagrammed.
"He ran a reverse when he was coaching high school football and always wanted to show other coaches how the reverse worked," said Jim Pastin, 52, of Kennedy, one of Ed Pastin's three sons.
Ed Pastin is also survived by two other sons, Edward and Rick, and a sister, Anna. His wife of 62 years, Margaret, passed away in 2004.
Everybody who knew Pastin seems to have a favorite story to tell.
Former quarterback Cornelius "Corky" Norman, 65, of Kennedy, laughed when he remembered how, in 1962, with a big game that week against Montour, Pastin barged into the locker room and turned off the team's pre-practice music -- The Contours' "Do You Love Me" -- which was spinning on a record player.
That Friday, Stowe suffered an uncharacteristic, lopsided loss.
"The next week, we came into the locker room, and 'Do You Love Me' was already playing," Nolan said. "He was superstitious."
When Jim's wife Sandy died from Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1997, many said his father kept the family strong.
"He was one of the best examples a player could have, a very positive person," said Bobby Trapuzzano, 62, of Kennedy, another former player. "My kids are grown now, but he's the type of coach that I would want my grandkids to play for."
Although Pastin is not enshrined in the Sto-Rox Sports Hall of Fame, he is in the Western Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame for his role in the first televised game. Palermo plans to push hard so that Pastin can be honored at Sto-Rox posthumously.
"He," Palermo said, "was 'Mr. Sto-Rox.' "