Paul Russo was a staple at the Connolly Center for two or more decades.
Few City events went off without him being present, helping to set up and volunteering to break down the equipment.
Few will forget his laughter, with was always punctuated with the phrase, “You son of a gun,” while he rubbed his hands together and laughed heartily.
Russo, 71, passed away this week after a long illness. In his later years, he lived with and was cared for by his cousins, Carol Puopolo and Janet Spiriti. He would have turned 72 on June 1.
“He volunteered for so many events and did set up and break downs and was happy to help anyone,” said Dale Palma, of the Council on Aging and director of the Connolly Center. “He was a 20-year volunteer, if not more and very much a part of the community here at the Connolly Center…I can’t begin to say how heartbroken we are. We really are heartbroken that he passed. The whole Connolly Center community is heartbroken.”
Russo was particularly close to Mayor Carlo DeMaria, whom he supported and enjoyed keeping company with. Mayor DeMaria called Russo and ‘Everett Legend.’
“On behalf of my family and I, our prayers and condolences go out to the family of my friend and Everett legend Paul Russo,” he said. “Pauly was a dedicated member of our community. He was kind, thoughtful, and always went above and beyond to help the City of Everett and the Connolly Center. More than that, he was a friend of mine and my families. Thank you for all you did for our community, my friend. May God bless you, Rest In Peace.”
Russo was also close with Councilor Wayne Matewksy, whom he always helped during Matewsky’s annual birthday celebration or at the councilor’s annual Halloween party.
Russo was proud to say he was a life-long Everett resident, and even pointed out he was born in Everett at the former Whidden Hospital – now CHA Everett.
He began coming to the Connolly Center with his parents when they were alive, and continued to attend as a volunteer after they passed away. In his later years, he loved going to casinos. He also enjoyed eating regularly at the Kowloon in Saugus, and at Floramo’s in Chelsea. He was known to be a retiree of the MBTA.
His illness never slowed him down, if he could help it, Palma said.
“Even through his illness, he came here and did volunteer work – as much as he could,” said Palma. “I just don’t have words to describe how much we’ll miss him around here.”