Joe Paterno Viewing

January 25, 2012 by staff 

Joe Paterno Viewing, The second day of the public viewing for the late Joe Paterno, the legendary Penn State head football coach who passed away Sunday morning at the age of 85, began not long after the sun rose over Mount Nittany on Wednesday.

When the doors of the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center opened at about 7:40 a.m., a considerable line of people that extended down Curtin Road had already formed. By 9 a.m., that line neared a quarter-of-a-mile long.

Students, alumni and town residents, representing a long range of ages, took turns walking through the campus church past the closed casket of the iconic coach, who clearly meant so much to so many.

I just felt that I needed to pay Joe respect for all he’s done for this university,” said Kate Ganley, a Penn State senior. “It wouldn’t be what it is today without him.”

Those lined up for a last glimpse at the coach included a few surprise guests.

Actor Billy Baldwin was among the last through the spiritual center Tuesday. He never attended Penn State, did not know Paterno family well but had been to dinner at their house once.

“They welcomed me into their home with a big pasta dinner,” he said.”I just felt like I needed to be here.”

On Tuesday, current and former players, as well as former coaches and others close to the football program, filed in to say goodbye to Paterno starting around 10 a.m. The public was let in starting in the early afternoon, and Tuesday’s viewing ended shortly before 11 p.m. By then, more than 27,000 people had walked through the campus church to visit Paterno one last time, according to estimates from the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center.

Some paid their respects for a second time on Wednesday.

Bill Fairer, a former member of the Blue Band who graduated in 1976, was one of those people. Fairer, a native of Levittown, described the mood in the church as “tragic” and “somber.”

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