A cold, gray day suits the mood for those in line
STATE COLLEGE, Pa.—Happy Valley was anything but happy on a gloomy Wednesday morning.
Students, alumni and othersfrom all over the country gathered at the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center to view the casket of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, who died Sunday at age 85 of lung cancer.
The grey clouds, cold air and eerie calm provided an appropriate setting for what was a somber day in State College. People cried while talking about their memories of Paterno, especially after leaving the viewing. Marines, priests, parents and children were seen in line to enter the spiritual center.
Penn State alumnus Robert Breitzer, class of 1967, recalled his memory of Paterno.
“I was here for his first game that he coached here,” Breitzer said. “He has done so much for the football program and I am proud to say I was at his first game.”
Football was not what Breitzer thinks Paterno’s legacy should be predicated on, however.
“His greatest accomplishment is what he has done for the university as a whole,” he said. “The library he helped fund is the biggest contribution he could make to this place.”
Members of the Penn State rugby team said they felt that they wanted to give back to the school just like Paterno did. A few members provided people waiting in line with free hot chocolate on a very cold day.
Jake Marshall, a sophomore film major, said it was the least they could do to thank people for their support.
“We just have a few of us out here giving out hot chocolate to people,” Marshall said. “The hot chocolate is free, but we have a bucket here for donations for THON and The Special Olympics. So far people have been really generous.”
A surprising sighting at Paterno’s viewing was actor Billy Baldwin. Baldwin is a friend of the Paternos and met Joe Paterno once.
"They welcomed me into their home with a big pasta dinner," Baldwin said. "I just felt like I needed to be here."
“He taught more than just about football. The tools and values he teaches transcend football. The kids that played for him became more than just football players, but men of honor.”
"He wanted things done a certain way. He was such a legendary figure. It was like serving under MacArthur or Patton."
Baldwin said he understands the impact that Paterno has had not only in football and to Penn State, but to the world.
"I'm glad I had the honor and privilege to meet him. I did not know him that well, but I felt compelled to come here today. I really wanted to play my respects to him and everything he has done for this community.”