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Officials Offer Condolences on Paterno Passing

By Elyse Clonan, Contributing Writer

Revered Penn State football coach Joe Paterno died at Mount Nittany Medical Center on Sunday at the age of 85. He had been undergoing treatment for lung cancer.

Following his death, the Paterno family issued a statement commenting on his passing:

“He died as he lived.  He fought hard until the end, stayed positive, thought only of others and constanty reminded everyone of how blessed his life had been.  His ambitions were far reaching, but he never believed he had to leave Happy Valley to achieve them.  He was a man devoted to his family, his university, his players and his community.”

Affectionately known as “JoePA” to Penn State football fans, Paterno began his career in college football as an assistant under former Penn State coach Rip Engle in 1950, eventually becoming head coach in 1966.  During his tenure as coach, he transformed Penn State’s obscure football program into a national college sports phenomenon.

Over the course of 46 seasons, Paterno boasted two national championships, five unbeaten seasons and victories in all five major college bowl games.  He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007 and ended his career holding the record for most years spent as a head coach at a single school and the most victories for a major-college coach, with 409.

Paterno was fired by the Penn State Board of Trustees in November 2011 after former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was arrested and charged with child sexual abuse. The first interview he gave since his firing – with the Washington Post on Jan. 14 – is now his last.

Despite the scandal that tainted Paterno’s departure, his passing was emotional news for thousands. Here’s what Pa’s public officials had to say:

Governor Tom Corbett:

His legacy as the winningest coach in major college football and his generosity to Penn State as an institution and to his players, stand as monuments to his life. As both man and coach, Joe Paterno confronted adversities, both past and present, with grace and forbearance.

His place in our state’s history is secure.

Senator Bob Casey:

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Joe Paterno. His long career at Penn State is unrivaled and his accomplishments as the winningest coach in major college football will certainly not be forgotten. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

Senator Pat Toomey:

I want to send my condolences to Joe Paterno’s family and the Penn State community. Joe dedicated his life to college athletics and higher education. His enormous role in building Penn State into the institution it has become will never be forgotten.

Congressman Glenn Thompson:

Today we lost a true champion, a great coach and mentor, and a gentleman who’s commitment to education and college athletics has been unparalleled.  Coach Paterno’s legendary status will live on in the hearts and minds of all football fans, Penn State Alumni, and especially the residents of Happy Valley.  My wife and I want to express our deepest condolences to the entire Paterno family.  They will remain in our thoughts and prayers.

Pa. Sen. Jake Corman:

There is no way to adequately express the impact Coach Paterno has had on all our lives.
Coach Paterno selflessly invested his life in our community and the lives of young people.

However, even though we may have lost a great man, we must not lose the Paterno way – to have success with honor by building up individuals, communities and institutions.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Paterno family at this difficult time.

4 Responses

  1. Where are the tears and condolences for the 10 year who was raped? And the other vulnerable children abused by Penn State’s Sandusky and his charitable cover organization. Who speaks for the child victims of adult abuse?

  2. In a hasty and self-serving manner Penn State’s Board of Trustees opted to take the soul of a man passionately dedicated to his career by terminating him a publicly humiliating manner.

    Joe’s soul has now been returned to its rightful owner since his passing. Now one has to wonder how the Board of Trustees and others who, behind the scenes, had been looking for any excuse to terminate Joe will live with themselves.

  3. I was in the stands as a student the year JoePa won his first undefeated season. He taught us to always stand back a moment and get all the facts first before making a decision. Donna’s right. If all those folks followed Paterno’s teaching he wouldn’t have suffered disgrace in his last days. He was never disgraced in my eyes.

  4. Honestly, I don’t think any of the people who rushed to judgement to sacrifice Joe Paterno to the slavering media mob and public opinion, or who chose to condemn him before all the facts were in, or who elected to strip him of honors when he did EXACTLY WHAT HE WAS SUPPOSED TO DO…..I don’t think ANY of those people should get to make themselves feel better or look sympathetic now that Joe Paterno is dead.

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