STATE COLLEGE (KDKA) — Thousands of mourners are expected to visit the campus of Penn State University this week as they pay their final respects to former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.
Lines began to form around noon today at the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center on PSU’s main campus. The public viewing began at 1 p.m. and will continue until 11 p.m.
“I’ll be waiting in line for that length of time, that’s fine. We’ll never see another one like him,” said Dave Sage, a Penn State fan from Coal Township, Pa. “That stadium over there is big, it will never fill the void that’s been created with Joe Paterno leaving us. We have to thank the good Lord that we had him for 85 years, and I pray for him every night.”
There will also be a viewing on Wednesday from 8 a.m. until noon.
The director of the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center has said he is expecting hundreds of thousands of people to attend the viewing over the next two days.
The first people into the building this morning were the Paterno family for some private time.
Following the family was the current Nittany Lions football team. Then, the next to arrive were former Penn State football players, spanning many generations.
“The impact that he had on me was just the whole level of class under which the program operated; and that level of class meant getting a degree, presenting yourself the right way, doing the right things, working hard, playing hard and that’s really what I think was the impact on my life,” Dan Morgan, a former player, said.
“It’s a tough day, you know… losing someone that has had such a positive effect on so many people in so many ways is hard,” added Greg Gattuso, another former player. “I mean, it’s hard for us; he was a mentor and a guide for the players here, and I use the teachings every day of my life.”
A former PSU player and current player are standing on either side of the closed casket to form an honor guard as the public files in to pay their respects.
A private memorial service will be held for the family on Wednesday.
Then, on Thursday, a public service will be held at 2 p.m. at the Bryce Jordan Center, next to Beaver Stadium. The university said today that the 16,000 tickets made available to the public online for that event are already gone.