Three Days of Public Events for Paterno Begin

Tributes surround a statue of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, outside Beaver Stadium on the Penn State campus Monday, Jan. 23, 2012 in State College, Pa. Paterno died Sunday morning. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)


By Kara Kelly

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — For decades they cheered him, now it's time for Penn State students and alumni to mourn Joe Paterno.

Three days of public events will begin Tuesday as Penn Staters from State College and beyond say goodbye to the man who led the Nittany Lions to 409 wins over 46 years.

The 85-year-old Paterno died of lung cancer on Sunday. He learned of his diagnosis in November just days after he was fired in the aftermath of the child sex-abuse charges against former assistant Jerry Sandusky.

Paterno's son, Scott, says despite the turmoil, Paterno remained peaceful and upbeat in his final days and still loved the school.

Big crowds are expected to show their love for Paterno during the next few days, starting with a 10-hour public viewing at 1 p.m. Tuesday. The viewing will be on campus at the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center.

After another public viewing on Wednesday, Paterno's family will hold a private funeral and procession through State College.

On Thursday, the school's basketball arena will be the site of a public service called "A Memorial for Joe." Penn State was expecting a huge demand for seats and set a two-per-person limit on tickets.

The winningest coach in major college football history, Paterno was fired Nov. 9 after he was criticized over his handling of child sex-abuse allegations against Sandusky in 2002. Pennsylvania's state police commissioner said in not going to the police, Paterno may have met his legal duty but not his moral one.

Bitterness over Paterno's removal has turned up in many forms, from online postings to a rewritten newspaper headline placed next to Paterno's statue at the football stadium blaming the trustees for his death. A headline that read "FIRED" was crossed out and made to read, "Killed by Trustees." Lanny Davis, lawyer for the school's board, said threats have been made against the trustees.

However, Scott Paterno stressed his father did not die with a broken heart and did not harbor resentment toward Penn State.

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