Anthony "Tony" Paesano

The pursuit of knowledge, his own, as well as its accessibility for others and community service have figured prominently in the life of Follansbee native, Anthony 'Tony' Paesano.

The 1947 graduate of Follansbee High School was born in Follansbee, May 11, 1929, to the late Vitantonio and Anna Paesano, and in 1948 was a walk-on on the Duquesne University Football Team. Earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in education, Paesano was graduated in 1952 from Duquesne, where he received his R.O.T.C. training before serving in Korea from 1953 through 1954. Upon his return from Korea, his first teaching and coaching job came in 1955 at Follansbee St. Anthony's High School, where he remained through 1960. In 1960, he accepted the position of teacher and head football coach at Canon-McMillan High School in Canonsburg, Pa. He served in those capacities until 1965. The year 1965 ushered in his return to his alma mater, where he served as a teacher and head football coach at Follansbee High School until 1970. In the fall of that year as part of the Follansbee-Wellsburg school consolidation, Paesano made the move to Brooke High School, where he served for three years as a teacher and assistant football coach. He also was busily working toward completing his Master's Degree from West Virginia University. In 1973 he stepped into the role of principal of Brooke High School, serving in that capacity until his retirement from the Brooke County School System in 1989. Following retirement that year, he founded the Brooke County Schools Education Foundation for Scholarships, and he continues today to serve as president of the organization, which to date has raised $400,000 for 800 students.

Paesano also serves as president of the Follansbee Chamber of Commerce. At the chamber's annual dinner held Dec. 14, 2004, Paesano was presented with the organization's Citizen of the Year award. Debbie Puskarich, the chamber's executive secretary said Paesano was selected for the honor for his leadership in such activities as a citywide observance of Make a Difference Day. For that event, Paesano recruited several civic groups, schools, churches and businesses to collect clothing and no-perishable food for families in need and also brought attention to projects pursued by each group on its own. The effort earned the city a $2,000 grant from Wal-Mart and recognition for two consecutive years in USA Weekend, a national publication that promotes Make A Difference Day. The grant was used to purchase a computer for the Follansbee Branch Library and a washer, dryer and washing tubs for Anderson's Children Home. Also during the chamber event, Paesano was presented the Order of the 35th Star, the highest honor bestowed to a West Virginian by the Secretary of State's Office. Resolutions from the state Senate and the House of Delegates also were presented, commending Paesano on his many years of public service.

Currently in his second term as Mayor of Follansbee, for which he donates his salary back to the city, Paesano also has served as a member of the Brooke County Board of Education. He and his wife, the former Lorraine Thomas of Beech Bottom, W.Va., have been married 54 years and are the parents of three children, Toni Ann, Frank and John. They also have six grandchildren.