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Vigil Slated for Tonight in Joe Paterno's Honor

by on January 22, 2014 10:56 AM

Two years after the death of iconic former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno, the community is coming together in his honor.

The memorial vigil is slated for 7 p.m. tonight at the Suzanne Pohland Catholic Student Center on Park Avenue.

Inspirational Way Foundation, an organization with a mission to commemorate Paterno's accomplishments at Penn State, is sponsoring the event. Visit here for details regarding luminaries for the vigil.

Penn State Spokeswoman Lisa Powers says the vigil is an appropriate way to remember Paterno.

"I am aware there is a service for Coach Paterno and I think this is a wonderful way to pay tribute to him, remember him, and share our own memories of the coach with others," she says.

Paterno died at age 85, roughly two months after starting chemotherapy and radiation treatments for lung cancer.

Paterno coached football at Penn State for 62 years, from 1950-1965 as an assistant to his college coach at Brown, Rip Engle. Then, from Feb. 19, 1966 until Nov. 9, 2011, he was Penn State's head coach – the longest such stint with one school in major college football history.

In all, Paterno was on the Penn State coaching staff for 704 games – 548 of them as a head coach – and 513 victories. His teams won national championships in 1982 and 1986, and had a record of 409-136-3. Paterno's final victory came on Oct. 29, 2011, when a last-second field goal by visiting Illinois bounced off the goal post to preserve a 10-7 win in Beaver Stadium. It was his 409th and final win.

Eleven days later, on Nov. 9, Penn State's Board of Trustees fired Paterno. Earlier that day, the Hall of Fame coach had announced his intention to retire at the conclusion of the 2011 season.

The resignation-turned-firing came on the heels of the Nov. 5 release of a Commonwealth grand jury presentment that charged retired defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, a Paterno assistant from 1969-99, with child sexual abuse over a 15-year period.

Joe and Sue Paterno donated more than $4 million to Penn State and spearheaded a major effort to expand what is now the Paterno Library. The Paterno's contributions also helped establish the interfaith Pasquerilla Spiritual Center, the Paterno Fellows program in the College of the Liberal Arts, the Penn State All-Sports Museum and several endowed faculty positions and scholarships.

Spokespersons for the Paterno family could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

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