Joe Paterno to be honored in public memorial

Posted on: January 25th, 2012 by

Joe Paterno dead at 85 - Penn StateJoe Paterno’s family announced Monday that  the legendary football coach will get a two-day viewing and a public memorial this week on the Penn State campus, two months after the university fired him over the phone.  The legendary coach had been linked to the Jerry Sandusky scandal and had allegedly not taken all the proper steps to put a stop to the reported behavior.

Bitterness over Paterno’s removal has turned up in many forms, from online postings to a note placed next to Paterno’s statue at the football stadium blaming the trustees for his death.  A newspaper headline that read “FIRED” was crossed out and made to read, “Killed by Trustees.”  Lanny Davis, lawyer for the board, said threats have been made against the trustees.

The family gave no details as to who might be invited or asked to speak at the memorial Thursday at the basketball arena, which can hold 16,000 people.  Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said the specifics were still being worked out with the Paternos.  But many alumni and students say Paterno was treated shabbily by the Board of Trustees in November, and trustees and other members of the administration might not be made to feel welcome at the memorial for the 85-year-old coach, who died Sunday of lung cancer.  At this point, it seems the Board of Trustees has completely alienated itself from State College and the Penn State community.

“I don’t think it’s going to be heavily laden with administration and trustees,” said trustee Linda Strumpf, who lives in New York and will not attend.  “This is something the family is putting together and not the university.  I don’t think the university wants to be in a position to tell them what a memorial service looks like.”  Sounds rather cold-hearted considering all that Paterno did for the university.

But trustee Al Clemens said he will be there to honor a man he described as a good friend.  “This is really a family thing, and so we’re just going to go as individuals,” Clemens said.  “Joe’s a great guy.  No matter what the situation was in the last two months, it doesn’t take away from what he’s done through history for so many people.  He’s just been tremendous.”

The viewing will be held Tuesday and Wednesday at a campus spiritual center, followed by a private funeral Wednesday afternoon.  The public memorial will be at the Jordan Center and is expected to draw thousands.

Janice Hume, a journalism professor at the University of Georgia, said that staging an appropriate memorial creates a dilemma similar to the one faced by Paterno’s obituary writers: how to address the scandal without letting it negate his entire career.  “I think it’s probably very difficult to strike the right balance,” she said.

Clemens said the board will later consider more lasting tributes to Paterno, including scholarships in his name.  Because of his generosity to the school, his family name is already on the library and a spiritual center.

There has also been a movement over the past few years to change the name of Beaver Stadium, the football team’s home field, to Joe Paterno Field at Beaver Stadium, and on Monday the man behind it, Warren W. Armstrong, a 1960 graduate and retired Allentown advertising executive, said he would renew his efforts.  Some are suggesting renaming the street leading to the stadium Paterno Way.

A family spokesman said the Paternos’ focus this week is on the viewing and funeral plans and they do want to weigh in on any ideas for a permanent memorial right now.  But “I would say the family would welcome a conversation on that,” Dan McGinn said.

RIP JoePa.



  1. Tag Cloud
  2. Blog Home