Happy Valley was in mourning well into the evening Tuesday night as a constant stream of people came out the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center on Penn State’s main campus to say goodbye to football legend Joe Paterno.
Many came from in state as well as across the country.
“Joe Paterno was such a great man and what he stood for and what he built this university up for,” said Gary Dunn of Mount Carmel. “I would drive a million miles to come pay my final respects to him.”
“Just to support Joe’s family and let them know we were all thinking about them and appreciate everything he’s done for the school,” said Jackie Dziak of Dallas, who graduated in 2003. “He was more than just football.”
Some waited up for two hours to say goodbye to JoePa, as the line wrapped well around the block.
“I can’t imagine how many thousands of people are going to go through here tonight and tomorrow for his viewing,” said Ed Searle of State College. “It’s pretty amazing.”
Outside Beaver Stadium, a make-shift memorial was set up as mourners left a blanket of flowers and candles at the base of the Joe Paterno statue.
Tom Morgan, who graduated from Penn State in 1983, came in from Florida to say goodbye.
“So many memories, Penn State, Joe Paterno,” said Morgan. “I felt it’s the least I can do to pay respects to him and all that he’s given back to me, to my family, to us as a university.”
And with the grief, there is still some anger.
Many felt JoePa died of a broken heart after he was fired by the university.
“Because he loved coaching and he was so scared of being like Bear Bryant, retiring and then not living much later afterwards and it irritates me the way he went out,” said junior Catie Fisher.
But many said the main feeling is a hushed one, as many reflect on the great man, now gone.
“You can definitely feel it around town it’s a lot more quiet,” said junior Chris Baker. “Just walking down College and Beaver and I think everybody’s just really impacted by it.”