We asked for your stories and tributes about former Penn State coach Joe Paterno, who died Sunday morning at 85 in State College, Pa.
Not surprisingly, the response was very strong.
Here are some JoePa tributes we received:
Max from Toronto: Adam,I'd like to share a funny JoePa story with you and others. While in high school in Toronto, Canada I grew up playing a fairly high level of hockey, I also showed a bit of talent on the football field (for Canada anyway) At the encouragement of my father (PSU '60) and my football coach I sent JoePa a game tape of my last HS football game on a whim. While it was already predetermined that I was going to university in the States to play hockey, I actually got a letter back from Joe (probably out of respect to my father of which he knew) I proudly still have this letter framed on the wall of my office, it reads."Max I have seen your tape and while you show great effort and determination I'm sure you'll make a great college hockey player. Best of luck.Joe Paterno"I have dedicated a great deal of my adult life trying to provide medical services to some of the poorest parts of the world. Of the many reasons I have chosen to do this a big one was the inspiration I received from JoePa and how he spent his life trying to enrich the lives of young people on many levels.He will be sorely missed.
John from Punta Gorda, Fla.: I am a Penn State Grad who attended university park in the early eighties. I resided in Holmes Hall which was fairly close to Joepa's home. This was back when cell phones and their cameras were not available. How I wish that technology hit a bit earlier! While myself and other friends would be shooting basketball or playing tennis outside, who would come strolling down the sidewalk right in front of us but Joe Paterno. I thought such an infamous man would never stop and converse with commoners like us. To the contrary, I did not know Joe Vincent Paterno. All it took was for a few of the boys to yell "Joe" and he would actually stop walking and approach the bunch of students and speak to us like he was our long lost friend. That experience was thirty years ago but Joe's humility struck me so much I remember it like it was yesterday. I honestly feel like I lost a grandfather on Sunday. It is because of Joe Paterno that I hang my head proud to be a PSU alumuni. God Bless Joe Paterno
Connor from State College, Pa.: My family lived in State College before I was born. I grew up Penn State which means I grew up hearing the stories of Joe Paterno. One of the best stories I can remember involves my older brother Logan and it speaks to why everyone loved Joe Paterno. My mother and Logan were cross country skiing to Sunset Park, right behind Joe Paterno's house. My brother struggled to get up this hill and my mother told Logan to just take off his skis and walk up. Little did they know Joepa was not far off shoveling snow at his house and heard this. He yelled to my brother "You can do it!" and "Don't take those skis off!". Needless to say, my brother made it over that hill. Joe Paterno motivated and will continue to inspire everyone to work a little harder no matter who you are. From other popular figureheads to little kids struggling to ski, Joe Paterno reached everyone. Rest in peace Joe.
Anthony from Marietta, Ga.: As a 78' alumni of Penn State, JoePa has been a part of my life since I can remember. I recall the the day I bumped into him while walking to class, and I was taken back by his upbeat personality, and the fact that he had time to offer words of encouragement to a "student nobody". He loved all of us within the Penn State Nation. My greatest moment was witnessing the Fiesta Bowl win against #1 Miami in Tempe, when no one gave the Lions a chance..he made us believe that anything in life was acheivable if you were willing to work for it.
Karrun from San Marcos, Texas: He really was a perfect example of anyone successful. He was very inspirational to everyone in a positive way. I know he didn't handle the scandal well, but everyone makes mistakes. No one is perfect in this world. I hope all his good lessons will pass on from generation to generation.
Jake from Kennett Square, Pa.: My first memory of Joe was watching football with my dad, he pointed at Paterno and said "That's the reason I went to Penn State." I knew from that moment I too, was going to Penn State.The first time I met Joe, he asked how my classes were going, told me to get good grades, find a good woman, and the rest will fall into place. I wished him luck on Saturday, and he said, "Ehhh Saturday will play out like it's supposed to. You just work hard and call if Sue needs to tutor you."
Andre from Gainesville, Fla.: As someone who grew up in the shadows of Beaver Stadium, for me, Joe Paterno's passing is almost akin to losing a relative. He was a good man, with a generous spirit. I will always remember the first time he stopped to say hello to me for no other reason than to brighten my day (and because, as an 8 yr. old, I couldn't help myself from pointing and yelling with excitement when I saw Joe Paterno coming down the street). Unfortunately, what has been lost in the entire scandal is that Joe Paterno is not a legend because he won football games. He is a legend, who just happened to use college football as the vehicle. I will miss him tremendously.
Steve from Washington D.C.: I think over the years Penn State fans came to see Paterno less as man than as symbol of the collective self-identity we took so much pride in - principled, noble, committed to principles that transcended sports. Maybe it was the image JoePa wanted us to believe. Maybe it's what we wanted him to be. The shock and pain of the last three months is as much about that image being shattered as it was about the scandal or JoePa being fired. What we all learned painfully over the last three months and were reminded of again poignantly this morning was that Joe Paterno was just a man - decent and caring but also flawed and vulnerable like the rest of us. I hope we can remember the man for both his successes and his failures and, in time, come to appreciate what he contributed to Penn State.
Michael from Jacksonville Beach, Fla.: Coach...you led boys onto a field of play called football. They left those fields as men. Why? Because you refused to let football become more important than life itself.And, along the way, whether you choose to or not, you showed all of us that life "is" more important than football. In fact, you showed us that consistently for 60+ years.As we say goodbye (in our own individual way), we are reminded that you are a dad, a husband and grandfather. Loved and cherished by family. And missed immeasurably by them.Yet, along the way, you, too became a father figure to all PSU alums/fans. And we grieve your loss today as we would grieve the loss of our own dad.I never spoke to you and you never spoke to me. Yet, I learned so much from you. So much, indeed, that I wish I could be a better man just to make you proud. Just like I would my own dad.Take care dad...er, I mean, Coach. I miss you already!Ave atque vale! Hail and farewell!Michael Peter FelliPSU 1990