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As legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno is laid to rest Wednesday in State College, Pennsylvania, the community is remembering a local icon, despite the scar that ended his career.
Paterno was fired in the wake of the Penn State sex abuse scandal in November 2011, in which assistant coach Jerry Sandusky allegedly sexually abused several boys. Leaving the sidelines mid-season signaled the end of an era: Paterno held a 46-year tenure as head coach and earned the honor of the winningest coach in major college football history.
iReporters who attended Penn State -- and even some who didn’t -- shared their memories of Paterno, known to many by his nickname of "JoePa."
Richard Liedy, 76, graduated from Penn State in 1957 and has followed Paterno for his entire career. Paterno was an assistant coach when Liedy was a sophomore. Liedy attended every Penn State football game until he graduated. Even after moving to Colorado, he goes back for games every few years.
"I have met [Paterno] on several occasions and think very highly of him as a mentor of men and a motivator of achieving high academic performance amongst his players," he said.
"I remember shaking his hand getting that great grin of his, especially when his team won that day," remembered Liedy, who met Paterno in 1957 at the campus' Nittany Lion Inn.
Photographer Matt Spingola and writer Emily Granville, both in their 30s, grew up in the State College area. They walked through downtown this week and noticed a lot of touching displays in memory of Paterno.
"It was overwhelming. We grew up in the area and we’ve always known about JoePa," Spingola said. "He's a local icon. He’s done so much for Penn State."
One of the store-front memorials they encountered was a drawing of Paterno with his hands in his pockets, his trademark stance. "We'll miss seeing that on the field and the press box," he said.
High school senior David Chang never met Paterno, but credits him nonetheless for changing the course of his life.
The Audubon, Pennsylvania, teenager had a wake-up call last year when he saw his poor grades. He realized he was falling short of his full potential. While researching the liberal arts program at Penn State, Chang came across a video about the Paterno Fellows Program. The video challenged good students to become outstanding and he made it his goal to become a Paterno Fellow.
Chang wrote his college entrance essay about how Joe Paterno inspired him to become a better student. And when he heard of Paterno's death, all he wanted to say was “thank you” to the man that taught him a valuable lesson.
"Before learning the life lessons Paterno regularly taught his players, I had little understanding of the world around me," he said. "I gained a greater perspective of the world around me and became a better individual in the process."
What will you remember Paterno for best? Share your thoughts in the comments below or send an iReport with your memories.
Paterno meant it's okay to not make sure serious child abuse reports are looked into and to not worry about anything but your career and school's welfare. Thanks Joe you are a beacon of light to all pedophiles who practice their deception and get support from folks like you.
what a disgrace...every time you think PSU people disgust you...they out-do themselves
I will remember Joe Paterno as the man who allowed a predator to prey on children and chose, and it was a choice, not to save them. There are not enough victories in football which excuse failing to save one child from a pedophile. Joe Paterno knew. That knowledge made him responsible.
I only had the opportunity to meet Joe once
I was 16 at field hockey camp at PSU and he yelled at us for sitting on his practice field. After we moved, however, he stayed and talked for a few minutes, asking how we liked camp and the university. I remember calling my dad and uncle that night to tell them I'd met JoePa and how excited I was. They had been PSU fans their whole lives and never met himI had one upped them.
Thank you Joe, for all the great memories. Thank you for sharing you life, your family, you knowledge, and your compassion with us. Thank you for making us better people--ones who will make sure those victims are given as much justice as they can get. We will make sure that there is some sort of "Paterno's Law" that makes all adults aware of what their responsibilites are in situtions like this and up their responsiblities where we can. We are Penn State...Because you Were Penn State.
As a parent and educator, the crimes on JS are disgusting and evil in a way in which words can never describe. I hate him for ruining those children's lives, for being a predator and using the trust those parents and community memebers put in him. In all of this, we seem to have forgotten that JS was the pedophile and rapist. That he committed these awful crimes and that the people who covered it up were the president, VP (head of campus police) and AD. Joe never saw a crime. He passed along the information that he had so that a meeting could be set up between the witness an the head of campus police. History shows that he did more than most people in his shoes would do. If he had known then, what we all think we know now, he would have done more.
To all who have anything negative to say about Joe Paterno, please have some class and respect. You will never understand the impact this man has had on people's lives. What I can tell is that none of you ever went to Penn State, so it isn't even worth taking the energy to explain to you how great of a man he was. As an alumni, I was very disheartened to hear about the whole Penn State scandal. Joe Paterno made one mistake and it was too not "morally" follow up on his report to his superiors. However, he did notify the individuals who were supposed to made aware of such allegations. They did not do their job and report it to the authorities. Joe Paterno even admitted regret not following up on the matter. Please remember however that he did what every other teacher and/or school employee does in Pennsylvania every day. When they learn of such an allegation (usually directly from a student victim), they report it to the guidance office and/or principle, who then reports it to Children & Youth Services, who then notifies police. This is without exception and is and has been accepted protocol in PA for years. It is not the responsibility of the teacher to follow up because he/she expects the administration officials to properly report it. To chastise Joe Paterno as being "irresponsible" is completely unethical. If you still believe he is responsible, go ahead and point your finger to every teacher in the state of Pennsylvania that has ever had to report such an allegation to their superiors. If you don't believe this Pennsylvania regulation, go ahead and look it up.
-Forever proud Penn State alumni
The impact that so many posters are proudly heralding is negated by the fact that he allowed a sexual predator to commit crimes against small defensless children. Simply reporting it was not enough! He should have called the police and if he had any sense of morality, he would have helped escort the pervert out of the building for good.... Helping this man perpetuate these crimes by turning a blind eye makes him just as culpable as he is. May the victims be comforted by the fact that at least one of the many who did nothing to help you is now facing the ultimate justice.
A great man is lost...he did so much for so many people and people who criticize him haven't done a fraction of good that this man has done--very sorry for those people..."It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better."
First of all, I'm not an alumni. Second, I was a victim of molestation for a few years whenI was 9 years old. So I believe I'm able to say this with all the honesty in my heart. Joe Paterno did not abuse these kids. He did not see it happening. He did make a mistake not following up on the report. I still believe he was a good man but even good men makes mistakes. Condemn the man who did abuse the children and even the person who saw it happening.
Like I said, I was abused and my mother and grandmother both suspected but did nothing. Then the only my mom did was divorce the guy. I don't blame either one of them but only the abuser as they had no proof.
Remember that JoePa was a man who did great things for most of his life and helped many people achieve greatness. Should we forget all those things because he made a mistake? I don't think so. I believe we should remember him with eyes wide open that he was a good man with flaws.
Bottom line: JoePa punted. He could have done what was right, but he knew damn well that calling the police would bring the whole thing crashing down on top of him. So, instead of doing the right thing, he tried to protect his image and that of the University, and in the process allowed the unspeakable to repeatedly happen. And to anyone defending him, I pray you son't have children or are ever charged with their care, because you clearly cannot see right from wrong. Shame.
Why do people not understand it wasn't his responsibility to go to the Police? He didn't witness anything; those who are judging him for what they THINK he should have done should be ashamed of themselves.
He was a great man; he did many, many great things. God bless him and his family, and may he rest in peace.
Hey if this is the way Penn State cares about children ( look the other way) we'll I sure as hell would not send my kid to attend college their.. Shame on all those who could have done something but did nothing!!
"What will you remember Paterno for best?" Failing the children when it counted most.
When are people going to stop equating the horrible things Sandusky did with Paterno, the PSU football team, and PSU as a whole?
This is not about any of these. It's about a great man who did so much for so many. Stop trashing Joe and PSU; vent your anger at the scumbag who commited the acts.
Another PSU Alumni
Many of these posts show the continual ignorance that the average American shows toward this situation. I am a PSU alum, but was never in awe of Paterno. I thought he should have retired years ago. But to attack him the way many have is disgraceful.
Paterno reported what was reported to him. He didn't see it, condone it, or attempt to cover it up. He wasn't indicted and while he admittedly says he could have done more, he was a 70 some year old man with no expertise on how to handle child abuse. He may not have stepped as much as he could have, but he didn't ignore the situation either.
My own board of trustees chose to fire the man based on media prosecutorial pressure without even questioning him. Those that vilify Paterno apparently have nothing better to do. Gracielynne, I appreciate your above post.
WOW, sandusky did great things for PSU football program also. He also helped many children and young adults, will PSU and Happy Valley mourn for him the way they are Paterno..PSU has obviously drank the kool-aid for years, they are Jim Jones followers to the end.....very sad people excuse him becasue of his age..i guess he lost all his WISDOM and knowledge while turning his head so fast
Can't believe how F'd up PSU is! Bow down! Bow down, before the man, ...er God! GEt over it. He was an enabler because he saw the guy all over campus and in his field house and did nothing about it, even though he knew what he was up to...
"Paterno was a man who not only coached football teams but helped mold young men. Young men that were charged with over 163 separate crimes over a 6 year span from 2002 to 2008 including defensive lineman LaVon Chisley who was charged with stabbing his roomate 93 times in the spring of 2006."
Truly a man we can all look up to, Sandusky case not withstanding.
he is not a person to look up to. what the h..l are these people thinking? he ignored a child molester on his staff. he was a grade a prick. it's over, he is in hell now
Nike Chairman Phil Knight said it best at today's beautiful memorial service: "If there is a villian in that tragedy, it lies in that investigation, not in Joe Paterno's response to it."
Rest in Peace +Coach Paterno
We are Penn State!
Spingola said. "He's a local icon. He’s done so much for Penn State." Good God, people. He was a football coach. A football coach! You folks have given him god-like status. How would Mr. Paterno have responded had that been his son or grandson in the shower with Sandusky? A bit differently, I would bet. Sorry Mr. Knight, but there are a number of villains "in that tragedy," and Mr. Paterno's response was one of them. And for the record, "that tragedy" is considered a crime.
Good God Paulm5545, Coach Paterno has molded more outstanding men and women than you and your kind could ever even dream of!
For me, Phil Knight said it all. Naysayers, look it up. JoePa, you will be missed.
Nobody will forget the impact he had on many young lives. And how he looked the other way because it wasn't convenient. At least he died in shame, as he should have. The painful cancer was just a bonus.
Its unbelievable that people try to defend this guy. I see most of the people who are doing so are from PennState. What a sorry little cocoon you all must live in.
Your JoePa turned out to not understand what it means to be a man. I don't care how much good he did. If these allegations concerned his own children or grandchildren you can bet he wouldn't have just washed his hands of it all.
Looks like all his supports want to spread his shame to the entire school. So far you are doing a good job of it. Congrats. Penn State now appears to be the laughing stock of the country - and for good reason it appears.
Just Observed...YOU are the one that is a HORRIBLE person. My Mother just died in December of horrible bone cancer. To make light of the pain of cancer and call it a bonus is disgusting. It is you who is shameful and totally without class. While I believe Coach Paterno did what he needed to do and believed it would be dealt with appropriately, even if he made a mistake who among us hasn't? You obviously have a great deal of hate in your heart and someday it will be you who needs to answer for it.
For all of you that say Paterno knew what was going on, please call the police immediately and give them your evidence. You obviously have information that no one else knows!
His death is now his time to answer to GOD. What else needs to be said.
I don't know why I'm taking the time to write on this blog, but here's how I see it. "To err is human...to forgive is divine"-'Alexander Pope'. This holds true for human beings from all walks and sections of life; irrespective of their class, sex, race, etc.
It is indeed difficult to forgive someone when he/she does us some wrong. Therefore, we are called upon to take on God's characteristics to forgive the wrong-doer. We as human beings cannot forgive when someones does us harm, but with God in us, we can easily forgive those who have wronged us in some way or the other. God forgives us our sins, however grievous they may be and does not remember them again...but shows utmost compassion to mankind. Therefore we also must practice the same and forgive the wrong-doer, for we never know when we might need someone to forgive us.
God-Speed Joe PA.
paterno did say something to people above him,one of them being in charge of the campus police. While he could've pushed or said more,he did got to the proper campus authorities, who then covered it up!
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