STATE COLLEGE (KDKA) — Ahead of Thursday’s public memorial, a final viewing and private service are being held today for former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.
The public viewing was held this morning at the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center. It started at 8 a.m. and continued through noon.
Thousands lined up over the past two days to pay their final respects to the legendary college football coach. A former PSU player and current player stood on either side of the closed casket to form an honor guard as the public filed passed.
“I just want to come out and pay some tribute to a legend at Penn State,” said Dylan Nelson, of Turtle Creek. “He has done a lot for this campus and it’s touching. We all love him in some way or another. He’s like a father figure.”
Because of the large crowds of people, many waited outside for hours to get inside.
“It was two hours to get in, it was very cold but it was well worth it,” Dwayne Marietta, of Ellwood City, added. “I mean, we’ve been with the coach for 45 years, and what a man, what a tremendous man. We’re going to certainly miss him so much.”
As cold as it was this morning, some students had the idea to warm up those folks waiting to pay their respects as well as give them a chance to give to Paterno’s favorite charities.
“Giving out hot chocolate,” said Blaze Feury, of PSU’s rugby team. “We just have a bucket if anyone would like to donate to THON and Special Olympics cause that’s who Joe Paterno … the charities he wanted people to donate to.”
Just like on Tuesday, the lines were still long again this morning. The people who showed up had specific individual reasons for coming.
“I go back to when I was just a kid listening to the games on the radio back in the late 60s,” said George Tatone, of Derry Township. “My dad, and that’s who I think of, would have those games on and that was my first interest in Penn State. I be in the yard, and we’d be playing or working and listening to the Penn State games on radio.”
“I feel like you can’t miss this,” Colleen Cwenar, of Point Breeze, added. “Joe’s done so much for Penn State and just us in general that I wouldn’t want to miss a chance to say goodbye.”
A private memorial service for the family was held today at 2 p.m.
After the private ceremony for the family, the funeral procession made its way through state college.
The hearse carrying Paterno was followed by the team bus, which was carrying his family. His wife, Sue, was sitting in the seat her husband normally sat in.
“It was very emotional, very touching. Joe Paterno meant so much to this school not only as a coach, but as a teacher. My son went to school here, he graduated in 2007, he works in Maryland now and he was just heartbroken when Joe died. He couldn’t get up here because he’s working and I know his prayers and thoughts are with everybody up here too,” Bill Speedy said.
The procession made its way down Curtin Road at the Penn State campus, went past Beaver Stadium and then went through town to Paterno’s final resting place.
His burial will also be a private service.
The public will have a chance to say a final goodbye Thursday during a service at 2 p.m. at the Bryce Jordan Center. Tickets for the event are already gone.
Actor Billy Baldwin did not attend Penn State, but became a fan of the Nittany Lions and Paterno. He was in attendance for today’s events.
“I think it’s really disgraceful the way this whole situation was handled. I think that there is no way it could have gone from [Mike McQueary] to [Paterno] to Curley to the vice president without provost, president, board of trustees back then at that time,” Baldwin said.
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