• January 20, 2022

The Passing Of Joe Paterno Through The Eyes Of A Penn State Student

I believe it was Football Eve 2009 (the pep rally we had the night before our first home game) in which Joe Paterno said he would still be coaching 40 years from now. Knowing that would put him over 120 years of age, I knew that probably would not happen. The Penn Stater in me, however, wanted to partly believe it.

“Rest in Peace Joe Pa” was one of the first things I read when I woke up last Sunday morning. My subconscious was preoccupied for the majority of the day that was left.

Before I go on I would like to say two things. Joe Paterno should have done more. He has also said this. And to my knowledge, he is the ONLY one, I repeat the ONLY one, involved that has said this about himself. He should have done more.

Second, I would like to slightly disclose the personnel break down of the campus police system, and the surrounding area for those who do not know. There is State College and University Park. One side of College Avenue is State College, the other, University Park. Penn State is in University Park. We have three different levels of police. The Auxiliary Police, made up of the students, the Penn State Campus Police, and the State College Police.

According to their website, the Penn State Campus police have 46 armed officers, with others in more positions. The State College Police has 65 sworn officers. If these numbers were similar twelve years ago, it would seem to me that telling the Head of Campus Police would have almost as much clout as telling the Head of State College Police. But that is just my opinion, and I am in no way a “police expert.”

He could have done more and he wished that he did.

Sunday night there was a candlelight vigil for Paterno. Thousands gathered around the same building that they did a few months ago to remember victims of child abuse. I missed the vigil due to being at the Paterno statue, which also had a group of people around it.

The Paterno family realized how many people Joe Paterno impacted during his lifetime and allowed for a two-day public viewing. I went Tuesday afternoon, and what I saw deeply touched me. Standing at the sanctuary’s exit was Jay Paterno. He thanked and shook the hand of every person that walked through the door while he was there. Due to the amount of people, the line was cut off at 10 pm.

Over the 12 hours that the viewing actually occurred, approximately 36,000 people viewed the body according to the staff at the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center. Hundreds, if not thousands more were turned away.

Thousands of people lined the procession route Wednesday afternoon. For almost two hours, I stood with my friends as we waited to say our last goodbye to our hero. There was a buzz in the air, but as soon as the first police car was seen the air grew eerily silent. The loudest sounds came from the moving cars and the helicopter flying over. After the last car drove by, some hugged each other and looked wondering what was next.

I was not able to witness Thursday’s memorial service in person, but I watched it on my tv in my room. It was a time to mourn, but also a time to share with the world the things that we learned from Joe Paterno.

Thursday night, I decided to visit the statue for the third time in less than a week. Flowers, signs, and other memorabilia, that were only a few feet in front of the statue on Saturday, were now inches from the actual sidewalk in front of the statue area. As I walked around the back of the statue, I saw other things including, cross necklaces and plaques with Joe Paterno’s name written in Sharpie on them. Ohio State and West Virginia fans had also stopped by and placed items down.

I never had the opportunity to meet Joe Paterno, but I have walked through the Beaver Stadium tunnel with him. Even though I never spoke with him he has taught me so much. He was a man that happened to be a football coach. But it was not just about football to him. One of his most memorable quotes is “They ask me what I’d like written about me when I’m gone. I hope they write I made Penn State a better place, not just that I was a good football coach.” And he did. I could list the dozens of stories that I’ve heard and read over the past week and some of you will agree with me while others will not. This is something I am fine with.

In lieu of flowers and other gifts, the Paterno family has asked that people donate to the Special Olympics, or THON. I have read several Facebook posts that due to the recent events at Penn State some people have decided to no longer donate to THON. There is no judgment from me, but if that is you, I encourage you to look into the history behind THON. THON is a 46-hour dance marathon that is a fight against Pediatric cancer. It is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. Last year we raised $9,563,016.09. Since its start in 1973, we have raised over $78 million dollars.

This past week, the Penn State community lost a great leader, but the Paterno family lost a husband, father, and a grandfather. My prayers are with them.

Thank you Joe Paterno for everything you have done and thank you to the Paterno family for allowing him to do so.

Delores McKay

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  • Very well stated. The THON info is great. I wish this was only 1 of 2 posts regarding the passing of a great man. Enough already, I didn’t go to PSU and am a great fan of the university. I’m tired of being told how great the school, man, legend, etc is. The school is a national presence academically and athletically and Joe Pa had alot to do with it, but all the Big 10 schools are amazing universities. The big 10 network has flushed all the schools with cash and they all hold a similiar stature in the nations eyes. This isn’t a rip on a great man and very well written post, but PSU alumni have to realize that mine and others college years were as good or better than yours even though I was in Happy Valley 5 Saturdays a year. College is typically a great time of everyone life, PSU is looking more like a cult than university over the last month.

  • Typo- I wasn’t in Happy Valley 5 Saturdays a year.

  • JP, My thoughts exactly. Although my comments/ stance about this entire heinous debacle, has been well stated on here, well written Delores. But enough with the canonization of Paterno. It’s both nauseating & ridiculous. How’s about some articles on how to right the wrongs, helping the victims, restoration of your destroyed image/ legacy, & uncovering the entire truth. Like everyone who was involved in the cover-up? What happened to the DA, who disappeared/ presumed dead? Was the reporter correct that the Second mile was a front for the pimping of young boys to the rich? Why did Governor Corbett drop the case/ cover it up? How many more victims are there? Try finding the truth & not try finding more ways to show your misplaced priorities, & lovefest for A MAN! That’s all he was, was A MAN!

  • Judge not lest ye be judged… And so whoever have never sinned let him cast the first stone… Our culture and society is doomed.. Joe Paterno was the last of an extinct race. A real man. You people who sit at a home and think you know these things that make sense. You know nothing. You’ve barely lived. If you were all so morally strong and convicted as to know what to tell Joe Paterno what to do, how come you are unknown?.. Because truly, if you were wise enough to advise someone of his aptitude would you be sitting at home typing on a blog with jelly stains on your shirt?

  • Jimmy, you are a clueless dope! Go back in your hole with your Biblical BS. Nobody is perfect & without sin or mistake free. Not you, not me! How do you know who barely lived? You don’t know $#!T! If Paternos aptitude was so high, why was he stupid & ignorant enough to forget about what he reported. BTW, what are you trying to say about the unknown comment? What just because Paterno was famous, that makes him better or smarter than everyone who isn’t known? You are a bonafide moron, & another of the long line of enabling, delusional, clueless, cultists, that worship at the alter of your false God! Get your priorities straightened out people. Also I take pride in NOT being morally corrupt, & knowing the difference between right & wrong. So continue to live in your world of denial & delusions.

  • We all know that Sandusky retired in 1999 amid molestation charges that were dropped by the local Centre County DA,, The Penaly to Sandusky was an opportunity to retire and still collect a pension instead of being fired. The Universisty and yes, Joe Paterno, allowed him access and privileges to use the campus facilities for camps, traveled to bowl games, and yes, to even continue to recruit for Penn State and there is no way that Paterno did not give the go-ahead for this to continue, Then fast forward to the incident of 2002 and the eye witness accounts of Sandusky sodomizing a boy at the Penn State lockerooms/showers.. Not only did Paterno fail to follow up on the story that Asst Coach MCQueary stated, but he also failled to follow up with the AD and Local Police on what they were doing or not doign about it.. Then to compound Paterno’s denial and complicit attitude towards the whole thing, he continues to allow Sandusky access to Penn State Facilities, use the Schools name, travel to bowl games, etc,etc all the way up to October of 2011… (the District Attorneys and Grand Jury’s Report and witness states were held in March/Arpil/May of 2011) Still this pattern of not only denial but just absolute poor judgement and possibily legal negligence to the point that any other kids molested by Sandusky post 2002 and especially if occuring at a Penn State Facility would open up the entire University and Joe Paterno for aiding and abbeting a known child Predator is very possible in a court of law.. This is I beleive, is what most outside of State College and Football fans, feel about how much Joe Paterno missed the mark over a long period of time and is partially repsonsibile for having this deranged,sick scumbag in Sandusky still affiliated with Penn State..
    He should have been banned in 1999 when he resigned to save face and not to bring shame on the University then.. But he couldn’t help himself and Joe Paterno should have seen that this man never stepped foot on Campus from 1999 onward and anyone who says that Sandusck had all this access to campus with Joe Paterno’s blessing doesn’t know how State COllege and the University operates.. No one and no thing went on around that Athletic Dept at Penns State with Paterno’s knowledge,permisson and authority..

  • Well said P-man…………..

  • Back in a hole, huh? Like a wet nasty hole or a Hobbit hole? I could roll with a Hobbit hole D.

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