A cold, rainy day could not keep mourners away from Joe Paterno’s statue in the shadow of Beaver Stadium.
Fans and admirers of the inspirational football coach have been leaving flowers, cards, even lighting candles to express their sadness over the loss of a legend.
In Happy Valley, people gathered at Joe Paterno’s statue outside Beaver Stadium to pay their respects to the man who dedicated more than 60 years to Penn State.
It has been a place of reflection, a space to grieve for so many mourners since the 85-year-old coach died Sunday. Penn State students, fans and more kept vigil with tears in their eyes, saying an emotional goodbye.
Kellie Kerston brought her four-year-old daughter, Serena, there to see the growing tribute to JoePa.
“You know, we lost our coach. He was very important to us in football. Football Saturdays, we loved him,” Kerston said.
For many, Coach Paterno left a mark on their lives. Kerston said she will always remember him being a caring man. “So many things he’s done and said have influenced my life. I’m truly going to miss him,” Kerston added.
Messages left around JoePa’s statue mostly expressed gratitude for all the man had done to make this place better. For Kevin Wagner, though, the way Paterno’s career ended, his firing amid the sex abuse scandal, makes the loss much tougher to cope with.
“It’s hard, hard enough knowing he went the way he wanted to, he didn’t, he wasn’t allowed that honorable end. I have some bitterness for that, it hurts. That makes it worse,” Wagner said.
Many more people said they heard about Paterno’s death and felt compelled to come here, just as many said the message behind the statue, the one which Joe Paterno said he hopes he’s remembered as more than just a football coach,they said that rings true.