There were so many speakers at Joe Paterno’s memorial service Thursday with so much to say about the father, husband, coach and mentor.
One message, however, was the same throughout.
Paterno’s fans, which include his former and current players remembered the coach for his 409 wins, his championships and for making sure athletes succeeded as student athletes.
Thousands came together under the same roof at the Bryce Jordan Center to remember the one man who did so much for so many.
Past football players, including Pittston native Jimmy Cefalo, spoke about what Joe Paterno meant to them, even after his death Sunday at age 85.
“We’re all saddened by it, but we’re celebrating a great life,” Cefalo said. During his time at the podium, Cefalo told everyone JoePa’s legacy lives on in each of his players. “His legacy is us, is the letter men he molded into who we are today. That’s the most important message.”
The memorial service lasted hours, full of fond memories of the legendary coach, but those who knew him said JoePa would not have liked the spotlight.
Nevertheless, videos of Paterno brought back memories for everyone who followed him throughout the years. Scranton native, Penn State alumus and NFL coach Mike Munchak believes the service was a fitting tribute to his mentor’s life.
“I know Joe the way everyone in this room knew Coach Paterno. They know what affect he had on all of us, not only all the football players. Obviously he taught me the game. Has a lot to do with (the) reason I am where I am. So I have a lot to be thankful for, not only player but a person,” Munchak said.
It was hard for some to keep a dry eye as they heard about Joe Paterno’s character from those who admired him most, especially when Paterno’s son led everyone in the Lord’s Prayer, something Coach Paterno did after every game.
“I was just amazed at all the grown men crying. It was a wonderful eulogy, wonderful,” said Anne Peters of Carbondale.
Also heard were stories about how Joe Paterno recruited a lot of the football players in that arena.
The first mayor of Paternoville, an encampment during the football season outside Beaver Stadium for front row tickets, said Paterno recruited even more students than just those athletes.