Remembering Joe Memorial Service

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Myke Triebold’s husband and Joe Paterno knew each other for decades. She met  him twice. She went to church with the Sanduskys. She lived in State College for  22 years, was a season ticket holder and attended countless games at Beaver  Stadium. The last few months have shaken her, made her mad. She doesn’t  recognize the Penn State or the Joe Paterno she’s seen in the paper and on TV.

That’s why she was glued to the TV on Thursday, watching for two-plus  hours as speaker after speaker remembered the Paterno she remembers, the man who  coached football at the school for 46 years and gave his heart and soul to her  alma mater, not the man who has been vilified for the last three months and was  summarily fired over the phone.

Triebold, a candidate for the school’s board of trustees, wanted to go to  the memorial service for Paterno, but she lives in Florida and, like thousands  of others, couldn’t get tickets anyway. The event could have sold out  100,000-seat Beaver Stadium but was held inside the school’s basketball arena.  Still, watching on TV beat missing it entirely, and afterward, Triebold felt, if  not better, at least happy to have been part of the celebration, even if she was  more than 1,000 miles away.

“The service gave me an opportunity to celebrate all that he meant to all of  us who have been a part of the Penn State family, and feel the gratitude that  will carry us through,” said Triebold, who taught at Penn State. “Hopefully our  lives will ‘swell thy fame’ the way Joe would have wanted. Only a few tears,  mostly gratitude and appreciation.”


Phil Knight, former CEO and co-founder of Nike, was one of the  many big names who spoke at Thursday’s memorial for Joe Paterno. (AP  Photo)

There was only one direct reference to the Sandusky scandal and the end  of Paterno’s career, and that came from Phil Knight, the chairman of Nike. The  Penn State board of trustees fired Paterno Nov. 9, four days after former  defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was charged with sexually assaulting eight  boys over a 15-year period. A furious debate has since played out about whether  Paterno did enough once he was notified of allegations against Sandusky in 2002. “If there is a villain in this tragedy, it lies in that investigation, not Joe  Paterno’s response to it,” Knight said.

Those comments drew a standing ovation some of the loudest and most  sustained cheering of the day.

But overwhelmingly, the speakers simply saluted Paterno, who died Sunday  of lung cancer. He was 85. For more than two hours, former and current players,  friends and family members talked about the impact he had on their lives. Most  of the stories sounded like vintage Paterno, of what a hard-nosed coach he was,  always pushing, pushing, pushing his players, even long after they left Penn  State. Knight told the most unexpected story, describing Paterno and Rick  Neuheisel performing a duet of the 1960s song, “Wild Thing,” with Neuheisel on  the guitar and Paterno singing.

Knight said he chose Paterno as his hero 12 years ago, after his previous  hero died. He said he learned of Paterno’s death on Sunday and blurted out, “‘Who’s going to be my hero now?’ It’s a question every one in this arena can  ask. And I don’t have an answer for you. But I can tell you this much, that old  hero, he set a standard that will live forever.”


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