Sunday was a sad day in State College, as the Penn State community paid tribute to Joe Paterno. Throughout the day hundreds of people gathered outside Beaver Stadium at JoePa’s statue, joining together in song and prayer, remembering the man who many call an icon.
Penn state students, alumni, fans, and members of the State College community paid their respects to former football coach Joe Paterno.
“All I have ever known is Joe Paterno and Penn State. With this happening I just felt like I needed to come over and pay respect for the man, the legend and his family for everything he’s done,” said Jerry Everhart of Huntington.
They came by the dozen, and brought flowers, hats, cards, even homemade pictures. JoePa’s statue outside of Beaver Stadium has become a shrine, a place for well-wishers to gather in prayer and song.
“Joe became coach here my senior year and I’ve admired him all that time and this is such a tragic end, very painful,” said Joe Filko of State College.
Joe Paterno lost his battle with lung cancer at 9:25 a.m. Sunday. A hospital spokesman said he was surrounded by family. Paterno was diagnosed with cancer in November, just weeks after news of a sex scandal involving Jerry Sandusky. Some of Paterno’s fans expressed anger over how JoePa was treated.
“He was such a great coach and they should have done something for him, a big thing. It’s sad that he died and they didn’t do anything for him,” said Mariah Dparasis of Jersey Shore.
Some people left notes and candles outside of Paterno’s house in State College. JoePa’s next door neighbors flew their Penn State flag at half-staff. Charlene Sherrer made the trip to State College from York. She said it was the obvious choice.
“We’ve been season ticket holders for many many years and this is the trek we make every Saturday in the fall and this is just where we needed to be today,” said Charlene Sherrer of York.
Many current Penn State students said Joe Paterno has left a lasting impact on their lives, and his legacy will live on through them.
“He’s part of the reason I came to Penn State because he taught everyone how to get a good education as well as the football team. I’ve grown up with JoePa all my life, and the least I could do is pay respect to him,” said Penn State Student Calvin Frantz.
“I actually got the chance to meet him once personally and I’ll never forget that. He just impacted me and he always had this pride, a selfless personality. As a Penn Stater he resembles the true Nittany spirit,” said Penn State Student Alex Gallego.