Paterno Remembered at Penn State DuBois
Joe Paterno, who reached legendary status in his 46 years as Penn State's head football coach, was honored during a public memorial and candlelight vigil at Penn State DuBois on Wednesday. Paterno died Sunday of complications from lung cancer at the age of 85.
Organized by the Penn State DuBois Student Government Association (SGA), the service in DuBois was held in addition to services and public memorials at University Park. The campus community was compelled to hold their own memorial because of the personal impact Paterno made at Penn State DuBois. Most recently he helped to raise funds for the Penn State DuBois Alumni Society Trustee Scholarship, and personally contributed to that fund. During the service, Chancellor Anita McDonald remembered when Paterno visited the campus for the Alumni Scholarship Dinner fundraising event just a few years ago.
"When we had him on campus in 2006, he challenged us; he said, 'reach your goal at this event, and I'll make a contribution to the fund'," McDonald recalled. "Well, he did. In fact, I think his check was here before we even had the rest of the money counted. He really showed his dedication to academics."
SGA President Louise Whyte shared her feelings about Paterno's passing, saying, "I, like most of you, had never met JoePa. The closest I had ever been to him was watching him walk by me from the seventh row of bleachers in Beaver Stadium. But I stand here today feeling a great sadness and loss because I feel like I have lost a loved one. I feel like I have lost a family member, but in my mourning I realized I am not the only one that feels this way. On Sunday we all lost a family member."
Whyte continued, saying, "I think the fact that one man could impact so many thousands of people in such a profound way without them ever really knowing him speaks for itself and speaks for who JoePa was. JoePa was Penn State. He taught us character, values and morals. He taught all of us to be better students, and he taught our football players to be better players, but most importantly, to be better men."
Campus Minister Kyle Gordon led the crowd in prayer, and offered his own thoughts about a man who was able to exhibit such humility, despite being regarded as a legend to so many.
"I don't know of any football coach as famous as JoePa who had their number and address still listed in the phonebook. I can't think of any other well-known football coach who still walked to home games," Gordon said. "The amount of respect he got came from the character he had. It will be very difficult to find a true successor; to find someone who would live so selflessly."
Other students had the opportunity to share their own feelings; many of them demonstrating the reach of Paterno's influence, and how it transcended football.
"I'm not even a football fan," said student Chrissy Lockwood, recalling a conversation she had with her mother and the realization it brought to her about Paterno's impact. She said, "If it weren't for him, taking a Penn State degree to an employer wouldn't mean as much as it does. The exposure and reputation he brought to this university made it more special. I'm truly grateful for him. He has set a legacy that the rest of us, as the Penn State family, must live up to."
The SGA also arranged for a TV and space in the campus Multipurpose Building for students to view the televised memorial for Paterno on Thursday at the Bryce Jordan Center at University Park.