Paul and Dixie Restivo, a Herrin couple dedicated to Herrin community activities and to their professional work – he was a longtime Herrin High School Coach and Athletic Director – she is an RN and worked both at Herrin Hospital and for Dr. Dan Kane, are the 2012 HerrinFesta Italiana Grand Parade Marshalls.
Paul’s father, Sam (Salvatore) Restivo, was born in Villa Rosa, Italy in l903 and came to American in l911. His mother, Mary Guilino was born in Villa Rosa, Italy in l907 and came to American in l9l7. The couple married in l923 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Herrin. Paul’s siblings are Mary Jane Arnone and Joe A. Restivo.
His father was a coal miner and worked lay-off periods at Norge in Herrin. His mother was a homemaker in the family home in Freeman Spur.
Paul was born May 9, 1935 with the birth name, Paul Guy (Gaetano) Restivo. He attended school in Freeman Spur from first through 8th grade and graduated from Herrin High School in l953. His early years were spent playing basketball on backyard hoops with neighbors and at Freeman Spur grade school, and on to the courts at Herrin High School.
He played football, basketball and baseball at Herrin High School, won awards for all sports and received the Elk’s Most Valuable Football player award. He received special mention on the Chicago Daily News All-Star Football team and was named to the South Seven Conference first All Conference football team and the South Seven Conference second All Conference basketball team.
He attended Memphis State University on a football scholarship for one year after high school and transferred to SIU where he received his Bachelor of Science in Education in l958. He attended SIU on a football scholarship, played varsity football and lettered for two years. He received his Master of Science from SIU in l969 in Health and Administration Supervision and holds 36 hours toward his PhD.
Bill Mateyka, a lawyer in Edwardsville, has maintained their friendship that began when they were roommates at SIU. He says, “Paul was an accomplished athlete, but also a good friend to many. He was always well-liked. He was a person of achievement in sports, in the classroom, in his coaching jobs and as the Herrin High School Athletic Director. He and Dixie are exemplary citizens.”
His first teaching/ head football coaching job was at DuQuoin High School from l958-1963 where he had 29 wins, l5 loses and 4 ties and served as assistant basketball and baseball coach. He was a teachercoach at Lawrenceville High School from l963-1969 where he was head football coach with 36 wins, l4 loses and 2 ties and stints as Head Track coach and assistant basketball coach.
He moved to his award winning tenure at Herrin High School from l969-1993. He served as HHS Athletic Director and Head Football coach with 42 wins and l6 loses with two perfect seasons. He also served as HHS head track coach from l969-l975. His energetic and winning personality led him to second jobs with Golden Rule Insurance and Royal Publishing Company.
Paul holds many honors from his long career of coaching including, Southern Illinois Football Coach of the year, l962, 1966, 1967-1973. He was South Seven Football Coach of the Year in l971 and l972 and Southern Illinois Prep Coach of the Year, 1968, 1971. He was inducted into the Illinois Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in l985 and the Southern Illinois Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in l987 and the Herrin High School Hall of Fame in 2000.
His love of coaching and the sport of football brought two proclamations, one from the State of Illinois for 27 straight football wins and the other from the City of Herrin for 27 straight football wins during his career at Herrin High School. He organized Little League (touch) football in DuQuoin, Lawrenceville and Herrin and organized the Herrin Athletic Booster Club, the HHS Hall of Fame and the HHS Football Alumni Association.
His professional organizations range from offices in the Illinois Athletic Directors Association where he is a Lifetime member to the Southern Illinois and Illinois Coaches Associations. He served as President of the SIU Alumni Letterman Club and is a life time member of the SIU Football Letterman Association. He is a member of the Williamson County Retired Teachers Association.
He and his wife are members of Our Lady of Mt Carmel Catholic Church. He is a member of the Herrin Area Historical Society, the KC’s, Elks Club, and Herrin Athletic Booster Club. He has worked for SIU Alumni Telethon fund drives, and served on the Herrin City Planning Commission.
Dixie is a native of Carbondale and graduated from Carbondale Community High School and St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing in St. Louis, MO. She worked for Marshall Browning Hospital in DuQuoin, Methodist Nursing Home in Lawrenceville, and Herrin Hospital. She accepted a position with Dr. Dan Kane as his Herrin office registered nurse. It was a good fit as she raised her family of 5 children. “I was able to keep an eye on the home front, my children were students just around the corner at OLMC, and I was home on weekends. Dr. Kane and his patients will always remain good friends who made wonderful work place memories.”
Dixie is a longtime community volunteer and holds membership in the Daughters of Mary at OLMC, the Herrin Hospital Auxiliary where she served as President 2005-2006, is currently the Co-manager and Co-buyer of the Auxiliary Gift Garden at Herrin Hospital with Charlotte Delaney. She is a past member of OLMC School Board, Herrin Beta Sigma Phi, and CMA and served as an assistant Girl Scout leader. One of her favorite activities is serving as President of her son in law, David Lee Murphy’s Fan Club. Murphy is a Herrin native who continues his popular career as a songwriter and singer in Nashville, TN.
The couple met when Paul was a student at SIU and he saw her at the Carbondale City Dairy where she worked. He asked her out, they went to the movies. The romance began. Dixie was born in l937 to Lynneal and Dixie (King) Wells in Carbondale. She has three brothers and two sisters, Terry and Jeri Wells, St. Louis, MO, Lynda and Ray Smith, Morgan Hill, CA, Stephen and Debbie Wells, Kirkwood, IL, Diane and Larry Smith, Vincennes, IN and Douglas Wells, Carbondale.
The couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2008 in Nashville, TN with their family and followed it with a trip to Italy in 2009 with their daughter, Donna and son in law, David Lee Murphy. Dixie had her own plan in mind for that special celebration and wrapped a bright red mustang convertible with a bow in their Herrin garage to surprise her husband. The sportsman who was always at the top of his game was floored with the gift. As he said, “I always wanted a red Mustang.” The couple eloped June 7, 1958 to Corinth, Mississippi. They held a formal marriage ceremony December 6, 1958 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in DuQuoin.
They have five children, Elizabeth Feezor, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, Pamela Restivo, Franklin, TN, Donna and David Lee Murphy, Franklin, TN, Kathryn Restivo, Chicago, and Tom and Diana Bailey Restivo, Bloomington. Their son, Michael Paul, died at age two in 1968. They have 11 grandchildren.
Paul remembers working hard, playing basketball and enjoying friendships in his growing up years in Freeman Spur. One of his oldest friends, Lowell Hall, says of Paul “We were both born in Freeman Spur, went to school and played sports together. We were good friends then and are today. Paul and his family exemplify the fine Italian heritage of southern Illinois. He and Dixie deserve this honor – they are the best.”
Paul and Dixie share their common love for the community they live in. Paul said, “Herrin is the type of community where people have good common sense, they seem to live in harmony and look to the future. We are proud to live here.”
The couple will be honored at the HerrinFesta Honoree Banquet at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 22 at the Herrin Elks Club Banquet room on the corner of East Monroe and North l3th. They will lead the Grand HerrinFesta Parade at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 26 through downtown Herrin.