Robert J. Paternoster was born on Oct. 20, 1939, in Trenton, New Jersey, and was the former Long Beach city planner who created a strategic plan that revitalized downtown and who also managed the Queensway Bay Project, which included building the Aquarium of the Pacific. He died March 23 at the age of 83.
“Bob was a planning visionary, an energetic creator who took any difficult situation and turned it into success,” said Jim Hankla, Long Beach”s city manager from 1987 to 1998.
He was a member of the Kappa Alpha Society and a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with a degree in civil engineering. He also had a master’s degree in city planning from Harvard University. In later interviews, he said he went into city planning as a career, instead of civil engineering, because city planning brought him into more direct contact with people, which he enjoyed.
He had planning jobs in Philadelphia and San Francisco before taking the job as planning director in Pittsburgh, a post he held for seven years. In 1977, Paternoster, then 37, left Pittsburg and came to Long Beach with his wife and three daughters, two of whom became teachers in the Long Beach Unified School District.
Friends noted that Paternoster was like the Energizer Bunny – and was always planning something somewhere. “He was just a bundle of energy, It was hard to keep up with him. He was an outstanding public servant.”
This obituary was taken in part from the Press-Telegram, published April 11, 2023.