Waiting Hours for Just a Moment, With No Complaints

January 24, 2012 at 11:54 pm 31 comments

I walked from my office to the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center a little after 1 p.m. Tuesday, thinking I might be early enough to beat the crowds. I wasn’t close.

Heading toward the tail end of a line that snaked back and forth through the Pasquerilla courtyard, Disneyland-style, stretched east on the sidewalk along Curtin Road, and at times extended north onto Shortlidge Road almost to Park Avenue, I got a sense of the crowd that already had turned out for Joe Paterno. This was in the first hour of a 10-hour viewing window on Tuesday, with four more hours scheduled Wednesday morning. This was no surprise.

I joined the crowd and spent two hours in line, all but the last 10 minutes of it outside, before the final stretch. We entered the spiritual center through a side door, shuffled down a hallway and entered the main lobby, where a few more turns of the line finally led us into the main auditorium. The clumps of people thinned into a slow but steadily moving single file, which continued down the aisle on the left side of the large, high-ceilinged room. At the front lay a casket, adorned with flowers.

We turned right, the casket on our left, the already indelible black-and-white image of Paterno, arms crossed and smiling, the only other adornment. On each side of the casket stood a large young man—former Nittany Lion quarterback Daryll Clark ’08 and a current player I didn’t recognize—part of the “honor guard” of lettermen who took turns aside their coach on the stage. The line had moved much more slowly in the early going, as some of those who’d come to pay their respects paused 15 or 20 seconds for prayer and reflection, a practice that must’ve been discouraged by funeral officials mindful of the tens of thousands still to come. By the time I got there, it seemed instinctive for each of us to stop for just a beat before moving on.

Jay Paterno ’91 stood for a time not far from the exit, shaking every hand presented him. I’m told his brother Scott ’97 did the same at other times during the 10-hour public viewing. I don’t know if their other siblings or Joe’s widow, Sue ’62, met the crowd, but it seems safe to assume they did. The Paterno family has made no secret of their appreciation for the public support they’ve received over the past few months.

A friend who was an hour or so behind me in line texted me later to tell me that Tom Bradley ’78, Paterno’s former player, longtime assistant, and interim replacement, had made his way down the line on Curtin Road. As far as my friend could tell, Bradley shook the hand of every person in the line and offered the same words to each of them: “Thanks for coming out for Coach.”

Ryan Jones, senior editor

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31 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anonymous  |  January 25, 2012 at 12:22 am

    Thanks for sharing this, for those of us that cannot make the trip to see our favorite all time coach.

  • 2. Marie  |  January 25, 2012 at 12:30 am

    Thank You , I have the chills , you made me feel like I was there. So appreciative! He’s always been an inspiration to our family, he will be missed!

  • 3. Dogwalker04  |  January 25, 2012 at 12:33 am

    Thank you. Although I haven’t lived in Centre County (Happy Valley) for over 20 years, I will always, always love Joe Paterno and all that he did for Penn State, both on and off the field. Wish I could have made the journey.

  • 4. Marc Mulay  |  January 25, 2012 at 12:35 am

    Ryan- I’m out in S. CA. In March 1978, Mr. Paterno, while serving dually as Head Football Coach and interim Athletic Director, sent Jimmy Restauri and me to the NCBA Boxing National Tournement in Reno, NV. At the time, I rented on McKee street, just a few houses up from the Paterno’s. Your article here touched my heart. PARTICULARLY in lieu of ignorant messages I’ve received…EX/

    “…Do you know how many people are saying the same thing about joe paterno? Nobody has a connection to him except you so of course you take it “personal”. Personally I have no respect for the man. Anyone who would allow someone to rape children and turn their head is a loser and pathetic human being in my book and not a leader….”

    Really revolting. These people don’t know Sandusky from McQueery from Paterno from -a volleyball. They can’t be bothered with the facts, because they’re such an authority…my polite refutation;
    ————————————
    “…McQueery has testified that he DID NOT provide Paterno with graphic details about Sandusky’s alleged activities…”

    [-USA Today
    Monday, January 23, 2012
    also, reported in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times]
    ————————————
    is ignored. A lie seems always to make its way three times around the world before truth has the chance to put its running shoes on. Nonetheless, truth remains, prevails and does not care.

    Thank you for your thoughtful article. I would have loved to come back to State College for this.

    Best regards,

    Marc Mulay
    BS MKTG ’81

  • 5. A long time fan  |  January 25, 2012 at 12:38 am

    I am not able to get off of work to attend, but my thoughts and prayers are with the Paterno family and the rest of the 100’s of 1,000’s of people who have been influenced, directly or indirectly, by Coach Paterno. He was one-of-a-kind and there will never be another man quite like him. His legacy will never die. RIP, Joe and thank you for your years of devotion to making Penn State a better place.

  • 6. princesskritty  |  January 25, 2012 at 12:43 am

    This was great to read , Since I cant be there and I wont watch news or go on internet except here.
    Its great to know that ignorance hasn’t blinded everyone,
    People truly appreciate what a great person Uncle JoePa really was…
    Thank you for sharing Kristen Mattson

  • 7. Lauren  |  January 25, 2012 at 1:07 am

    thank you.

  • 8. Sue costlow  |  January 25, 2012 at 1:18 am

    Thank you for sharing. I, like many others, would have loved to be there…but for me, my health concerns would not allow me to be out in the cold for that long. You gave me a chance to experience Joe’s viewing. Thank you again.

  • 9. Thomas J Bopp  |  January 25, 2012 at 1:37 am

    I would have loved to have been there to pay my final respects to a person that I looked up to for many years. He reminded me of my father so much, a scrapper. Someone who would help anybody and give them the shirt off his back. The passing of Joe was like losing my father again. I don’t think there will ever be a person that I will look up to as I looked up to Joe. RIP Joe and Thank You for all the good you did in this world. I know there is a special place in heaven for you.

  • 10. undying joe paterno fan  |  January 25, 2012 at 1:54 am

    Thank you. Rest in Peace Joseph Vincent Paterno. Your legacy will live on in the history books, and among the true Penn State fans… and will NEVER be forgotten.

  • 11. Anonymous  |  January 25, 2012 at 4:34 am

    Although unable to attend, my pryers and sympathy to the Paterno Family and to all who new Coach personally. This is a sad day for the State College community. The world of college football has lost a Great man as well as a true. Inspiration too everyone who ever knew Joe Paterno. Rest in peace Coach.

  • 12. Bryn R. Rutecky  |  January 25, 2012 at 5:00 am

    I never did meet JoePa, but did watch Penn State for years. And I did always like him as a good coach. The fight with cancer he would have lived with, the broken heart, is what did him in.
    WE ARE PENN STATE

  • 13. Anonymous  |  January 25, 2012 at 6:55 am

    Thank you for sharing your experience, Ryan.
    Rest in peace, JoePa.
    From a proud PSU alum.

  • 14. Mytri  |  January 25, 2012 at 7:04 am

    It seems like we were in the line together! We were at the end of Forum closer to Eisenhower when Tom Bradley walked by and said, Thanks for coming out for the Coach! My sophomore son and I were amazed at what a wonderful “family” Joe Pa had raised.
    A proud PSU Mom!

  • 15. coreen steinbach  |  January 25, 2012 at 7:42 am

    Thank you, Ryan, for eloquent essay. It really conveys the experience to us who can’t be there. As a young girl I crossed the deserted campus very early one morning. I passed only one person. Joe Paterno. I sheepishly said, “Hi, Coach!” He greeted me so warmly and told me to have a fine day. I have cherished that simple moment my whole adult life. Penn State IS my home; Joe Paterno an enduring symbol of that home. RIP, Coach.
    Coreen Steinbach ’72

  • 16. Sue  |  January 25, 2012 at 8:11 am

    I waited in line an hour and ten minutes around 7 and we started half way to Park Ave down Shortledge. The only disappointment was someone selling unlicensed Joe Paterno shirts, but I did not see anyone buy one and did see one person report it to a student police. My son was in line earlier in the day when Tom Bradley made his way down the line and he stopped and had his picture taken with him! What a Class act! My son waited about an hour the first time and also waited again with my daughter and I over an hour in the evening.RIP Joepa!

  • 17. Lillian Hall  |  January 25, 2012 at 9:14 am

    My husband’s freshman year was 1966 and I followed the next year so we have been with Joepa from the beginning of his amazing 41 years as head coach. Beaver Stadium is truly “The House that Joe Built” since it was just a small horseshoe shaped stadium when we were there. Joe was truly a scholar/coach. What better way to honor him and his contributions to Penn State than to have not only the library bear his name, but also the stadium. I think he would like Joepa Stadium since he spent 61 years working there.

  • 18. Jennie Daley  |  January 25, 2012 at 9:33 am

    I was there at 10:30 last night and Jay and Mary Kay were there shaking hands while Sue sat, surrounded by family, as a steady stream of visitors continued to pour through. I’m so glad I went. An amazing outpouring of emotion for a man and a family who have had such an impact.

  • 19. Jessica Hoffman  |  January 25, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Thank you.

  • 20. Anonymous  |  January 25, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Joe Paterno gave my dad encouragement in the form of a phone call just before dads double bypass surgery. Joe did not know dad personally; just a ticket holder. Dad did not live long but cherished Joe for taking time out of his life to pay attention to details – a mans need for love and encouragement. Thanks Joe. May God bless you always.

  • 21. Pamela  |  January 25, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    I have chills reading all of these comments. Since my fiance is former PSU alumni I have watched numerous games. My heart goes out to his family. Rest in peace Joseph Paterno.

    WE ARE!

  • 22. Edward  |  January 25, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    A dignified life til the end. For those who choose to disparage our beloved Joseph Vincent Paterno, and for those hurt by their comments, simply read the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling. It was one of Joe’s favorites and recited to him by his grandson in his final hours. I know it gave me perspective and comfort… and exemplifies the “success with honor” philosophy that he demonstrated. G-d rest his soul. On every clear day, the sky is “Blue and White.”

  • 23. Roseanne DeFranco Daecher  |  January 25, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    I did not have the good fortune of personally knowing Joe Paterno or attending PSU, but it is evident how much of an impact he made in the tens of thousands of lives he touched throughout the years. I do somehow, though, feel very familiar with this man and his family, having come from an Italian-American background where love is abundant and unconditional. Through this cultural familiarity, I know the kind of man JoePa was, and I subsequently understand the magnetic kindness that defines the Paterno family. God bless all of you… you are Penn State, an institution that was most abundantly blessed by the presence of Joe Paterno. Our loss is heaven’s gain. Riposa in pace, Giuseppe.

    Roseanne DeFranco Daecher

  • 24. Pam Hinkle  |  January 25, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    I was there at 8:30pm last night and believe it was Matt McGloin at the casket but didn’t recognize the alumni player. Do you have a complete list of the honor guard yesterday and today?

  • 25. Ryan Jones  |  January 25, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    Pam,
    I just got back to my desk after standing outside for two hours waiting for Joe’s funeral procession. Another sad, sad day.
    To your question: I haven’t seen such a list, but if we come across one we’ll share it, either on the blog or on our Facebook page. Thanks.
    Ryan

  • 26. Anonymous  |  January 25, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    Thanks for your descriptions of the day – I met Joe Paterno a couple of times – once we were in Ann Arbor for the first PSU game in the Big House with the Big Ten and it was the early morning before the game – I was 8 months pregnant and we saw him walking in the parking lot of the hotel – all he wanted to talk about was my baby and my due date – like it was just another day – he was such a great man!

  • 27. Joanna & Dustin McCartney  |  January 25, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    Rest in peace, Coach. May God Bless the Paterno Family, and the entire Penn State Family. We are eternally grateful for the AMAZING MAN that Joe was, and are inspired by the integrity, honor, and LOVE that he continuously demonstrated. Can’t wait to get back to “Joe Paterno Stadium” to support our beloved Nittany Lions.

    Dustin and Joanna McCartney, Class of 2000

  • 28. Daryl Milliner---- PSU '76  |  January 26, 2012 at 12:57 am

    As a member on Nittany Nation and a Paterno fan I am honored to known JoePA and family. Back in November 2011. I was honored to share a gift for Coach- A Cow Parade Joe Pa Cow….. Who knew the events that would follow? Thank you Sue and Joe for the kind and warm note mailed to my family. We cherish you forever!!! Blessings and God’s Grace to the family and fans……. Much Gratitude….. Daryl Milliner- ’75. Charonda Milliner- 2006 DJ Milliner – 2015. Garrett Milliner – 2019

  • 29. Anonymous  |  January 26, 2012 at 1:47 am

    Esther Goldberg PSU ’79

    I wish I could be at Penn State now and share in the sentiments shared here. Thank you for describing the events, it helps. What an amazing man! He has been such a valuable addition to Penn State but also to the world. So sad all those events happened, almost like a bad novel. But out of all this we still see (and feel) greatness in our hearts for a great human being! Love you, Joe! May you be bathed in light and love forever.

  • 30. Jim  |  February 4, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    I feel a great way to honor coach Paterno next year at all Home football games is to respond. WE. ARE. PENN. ST. JOE PA. WE ARE PENN. ST. JOE. PA. WE. ARE. PENN ST. JOE. PA.

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    Waiting Hours for Just a Moment, With No Complaints | The Penn Stater Magazine

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