UNIVERSITY PARK — It has been exactly one year since the passing of an iconic football coach in Happy Valley.
Joe Paterno died on this day last year following a brief battle with lung cancer.
Beaver Stadium at Penn State was long thought of as “The House That Joe Built. ” Now, the only reminder of the legendary Coach Paterno is a makeshift sign on a tree.
Last year, fans of the longtime football coach gathered around a statue of “Joe-Pa,” a memorial to the man who was loved by so many.
The statue, like Paterno, is gone.
Thousands came to mourn Paterno’s death which came shortly after the sex abuse scandal involving Jerry Sandusky and top university officials came to light and Paterno was fired.
“I think Joe Pa’s death was a stab at the spirit of the school, lowered a lot of morale the school had,” said Stephen Intriago who goes to Penn State Main Campus.
Students we spoke with said they felt a special connection to Paterno who was more than just a football coach to them. Paterno donated millions for the library which still bears his name.
“We remember all the good things he did. And not only what it ended with, most unfortunate thing that he died shortly after that all came out,” said sfudent Aubrey Hetzler.
On WNEP’s Facebook page, people remember Paterno in vastly different ways.
“I still think he’s a terrible person for turning a blind eye to those poor kids,” said Sarah Elizabeth.
“Nothing changes the fact he was a great coach,” said Randy Grover.
“We miss him a lot, wish he could still be here with all of us,” said Alana Geary, a PSU student. “We still see him in the same way, see all the good that he stood for.”
Paterno is still very much a part of the university community. In the Inspiration Mural in downtown State College. A vigil will be held Tuesday evening to mark one year since Paterno passed away due to complications from lung cancer.