Loss of Joe Paterno Devistates Fans
Thousands of shocked civilians gathered at the Penn State campus to mourn the loss of Joe Paterno. A student led candlelight vigil on January 22, 2012 gathered many confused and saddened Penn State alumni, players, and fans.
“His loss leaves a void in our heart that will never be filled,” a family released statement said, “he died as he lived. He fought hard till the end, stayed positive, thought only of others and consistently reminded everybody of how blessed his life had been. His ambitions were far reaching, but he never believed he had to leave this Happy Valley to achieve them. He was a man devoted to his family, his university, his players and his community.”
Paterno requested to see his family and friends for a “final goodbye” at Mount Nittany Medical Center.
“Everybody respected Joe, everybody looked up to Joe, and when Joe spoke, it was like the issue was over, he just said it. That’s kind of the way all of us – all of the coaches thought of Joe,” said former FSU Head, Coach Bobby Bowden. “I really admired him, I looked up to him, and you always heard life is not fair, and it’s not fair.”
Paterno lead every coach in division I history, with 409 wins, 37 bowl games, and two National Championships. Over 250 of his players went on to the NFL. He touched the lives of all who met him, taking an 18 year old, and turning him into an athlete who exhibited class, honesty, and integrity.
“A big loss is an understatement, guys like Joe Paterno rarely, rarely come around, and he touched many many, lives, on many many levels,” said Matt Millen, who played under Joe Paterno. “And its way beyond football, what we’ve lost today, is really really hard to replace. In fact won’t be replaced.”
On November 18, Paterno’s son released a statement saying that he was diagnosed with a treatable form of lung cancer during a follow-up visit for a bronchial illness. After “minor complications” from cancer treatments, Paterno was admitted to the hospital on January 13.
“I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Joe Paterno. He was an outstanding American who was respected not only on the field of play but in life generally – and he was, without a doubt, a true icon in the world of sports. I was proud that he was a friend of mine. Barbra and I send our condolences to his devoted wife Suzanne and to his wonderful family,” George H.W. Bush said.
During a sex-abuse scandal at Penn State, Paterno was relived of his head coaching duties. Many thought that the way Penn State fired him was uncalled for, especially with how much he had given to the University. All who knew him personally knew that coaching was his job, but shaping the lives of young men was what he could no longer do. Many who knew him said he “died of a broken heart.”
“He was probably one of the finest gentlemen I’ve ever met in my life,” said Mike Ditka, “he is, in my opinion, a true American hero. Gratin Rice once said a great statement, ‘Class is a hard thing to define, but once you see it, you’ll never forget it.’ This was a man of class, poise, a man of credibility, and a man of character.”
Joe Paterno had a 61 year tenure at Penn State University (46 years as Head Coach.) He was statistically the Greatest Coach in College History. There is no doubt that the impact he had over four generations shaping young men’s lives was, and remains, unprecedented.