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2nd day of mourning for Paterno to end with burial
Question of the Day
Inside the hall, the coach’s body lay in a brown hardwood casket topped by a spray of white roses. About six feet away sat a stylized black-and-white picture of the man who became lovingly known on campus as “JoePa,” smiling and peering out through his trademark thick-rimmed glasses.
Paterno’s casket had an “honor guard” of two Penn State players _ one past and one present. Some mourners stopped for a moment of reflection, or to genuflect in the interfaith hall.
Others fought back tears and sniffles. The only other sounds were the occasional clicks of news photographers taking pictures.
Paterno won 409 _ a record for major college football _ in a career admired by peers as much for its longevity as its success. Paterno also took as much pride in the program’s graduation rates, often at or close to the top of the Big Ten.
“The passion, the love that he gave almost gave you a sense that you wanted to give it back to him,” Penn State men’s basketball coach Patrick Chambers said after escorting his team to the worship hall Tuesday evening. “We’re forever indebted to him and we will continue to work as hard as we can.”
Four friends got in line at 6:30 a.m. to pay their respects, going up to the casket as a group to say goodbye.
“It’s hard to say goodbye to somebody that you feel you’ve known all along,” said John Whitney, a 21-year-old junior from Sparta, N.J. “A lot of us have never met him, but he’s had such a big influence on everybody’s life around here.”
Heather Hoffman, a 19-year-old sophomore from Marlton, N.J., cited Paterno’s contributions to academics along with athletics.
“It was time for all of us to pay tribute to him and give thanks because we’re all here in part because of him,” Hoffman said.
Karen Gilchrist, a Penn State fan from Scranton, brought three of her five children to the viewing. Seven-year-old Tiffany and 8-year-old Johnny both wore rolled-up khaki pants and black sneakers in honor of Paterno.
“There’s going to be no one like him in my lifetime or theirs,” said Gilchrist, cradling the third child, 6-month-old Valentina. “I wanted them to be part of a historic day. I felt compelled.”
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