Joe Paterno

Joe Paterno will be remembered as, perhaps, the greatest coach in the annals of college football. We may never again witness the likes of such an iconic individual who impacted the lives of so many.

Paterno guided Nittany Lion teams to a Division I record 409 victories. He produced countless all-Americans, National Football League standouts and hundreds of graduates who went on to become some of our country’s outstanding leaders in both business and industry.

The Brooklyn-born Paterno was also recognized for decades of work in fund-raising endeavors which helped raise millions for both his beloved Penn State University in addition to national charity organizations.

No stranger to the Ohio Valley, Paterno made numerous stops through the years on recruiting trips to area schools such as Bellaire, St. Clairsville and Linsly, among others.

The late George Strager, legendary football coach of the Red Devils, once labeled Paterno “the ultimate father figure” when visiting prospective recruits including ex-St. C. all-Ohio running back Tim Spencer, whom Paterno lost out on to Ohio State.

While Paterno’s overall body of work will forever remain exemplary, the almost impossible-to-believe scandal which rocked not only the college football world but the nation as well, tarnished his image in the eyes of many.

The tragic turn of events from last Nov. 5, including damaging revelations regarding former Paterno assistant Jerry Sandusky immediately cast a dark shadow over the central Pennsylvania campus known as Happy Valley.

Fired by the university’s board of trustees just days later, Paterno’s health took a rapid downward spiral, leading to a family announcement soon thereafter he was experiencing a treatable form of lung cancer.

In the wake of his death, announced Sunday morning, our nation’s leaders – both political and throughout the sporting world – are speaking out in overwhelming support of Paterno and a lasting legacy he leaves behind.

Today, The Times Leader joins millions of Americans who are mourning the passing of one of the greatest sports figures in our nation’s history.