Wednesday night’s tribute to Joe Paterno began with a silent procession as students marched towards the Nittany Lion statue at Penn State Hazleton campus.
Wearing the Penn State colors of blue and white, they came to say goodbye to JoePa.
“Definitely all he did for Penn State,” said sophomore Richard Myers. “Even in his dying days he donated $100,000 to the school, it just shows how generous he was.”
“He did a lot for this school and it’s only right for all Penn State students to show respect for JoePa,” said sophomore Wismith Geffrand.
After the alma mater was sung, speakers took to a podium. Some speeches were emotional.
“People on the outside cannot understand why Penn State is in such a state of mourning,” said Zena Lewoc, president of the Student Government.
Other stories were light and funny.
Alumnus Walter Kruczek recalled talking with Paterno shortly after he was named head coach.
“And I just said to him ‘what kind of a team are you going to have?’ He just said ‘I’m going to be okay this year and we’ll be really good next year’. I said ‘Why is that?’ He said ‘Because I just recruited a hell of a piano player,” said Kruczek, who graduated in 1968. “For the old people here, I think you know who it was, Mike Reid, for the young people you might want to check that out.”
Most stories were inspirational, remembering what Paterno did for the university.
“He will be our light forever. He will be our light in you, the students, in you the alumni, and the friends of penn state,” said Betty Corcoran, the PSU Hazleton Council.
To end the service, ten students came up to the podium, each bearing a quote from Paterno.
Perhaps the most fitting was the final one.
“They ask me what I’d like written about me when I’m gone,” read Lewoc. “I hope they write I made Penn State a better place, not just that I was a good football coach.”
Volunteers from Penn State’s THON were there to collect donations.