Candlelight vigil at New Kensington campus remembers Joe Paterno
“We should not be discouraged by his death but encouraged by his life. It would be a blessing to impact others the way he did."
-- John Spadaro, Alle-Kiski Alumni Society
More than 100 Penn State New Kensington students, alumni and friends gathered at the campus Lion Shrine Jan. 24 for a candlelight vigil to remember Joe Paterno.
Guest speakers and impromptu speakers from the audience paid tribute to the legendary coach who passed away on Jan. 22. Message boards in the main lobby and in Café 780 were filled with words of support, which will be forwarded to the Paterno family.
The vigil began at 6 p.m. with the lighting of the candles, followed by the singing of the Penn State “Alma Mater” by Heather Lach, a New Kensington student. Kevin Snider, chancellor at the campus, opened the memorial with remarks about the influence of Paterno on generations of Penn State students.
“By all accounts we have lost more than just a coach. He was the symbol of a University so great that he was willing to commit to it for his entire career, so that academics could be emphasized in a successful Division I sports program,” said Snider, who has headed the campus for four years. “While these past few months have reminded us that Joe was also a man, and as such, wasn't perfect all the time, his impact on Penn State, alumni, employees, students, and the public has been phenomenal. And it is his extraordinary contributions that we need to focus on now.”
John Spadaro, a 1982 alumnus and board member of the Alle-Kiski Alumni Society, spoke of Paterno’s legacy and how he touched the lives of so many people in such a positive way, both on and off the football field.
“We should not be discouraged by his death but encouraged by his life,” said Spadaro, who attended the New Kensington campus before completing his degree at University Park. “It would be a blessing to impact others the way he did."
Providing a campus student perspective, Myquan “Que” Harris-Moore, president of the Student Government Association at the campus, talked about Penn State as a family. Although the sophomore from Philadelphia never met Paterno, he is saddened by the loss of someone who means so much to the University.
“We are a family, and like everyone says, we are Penn State,” said Harris-Moore, who will continue his studies at University Park in the fall. “Joe was the best example of that.”
Ron “Bubba” Hileman, a former campus student and 1980 alumnus, had an up-close and personal relationship with Paterno. Hileman served as the football team’s equipment manager for many years and had daily meetings with the coach during the season. In addition to his reminisces about Paterno, Hileman suggested a way for Penn Staters and friends to honor Paterno’s legacy.
“Joe’s true story was that he made an impact,” said Hileman, a resident of Leechburg. “So my advice to you as students and alumni is to continue to make an impact.”
Following Hileman’s remarks, students and members of the local community shared their memories and thoughts about Paterno.
The vigil concluded with the singing of “Amazing Grace” by Lach and Angie Fisher, administrative support assistant for Student Affairs.
After a public viewing, Paterno will be laid to rest Jan. 25, in a private funeral service. A public memorial service will held the next day in the Bryce Jordan Center.The New Kensington campus’ candlelight vigil was covered by KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh and broadcast on its 11:00 p.m. news. Students and alumni were interviewed by the station’s David Highfield.
For the KDKA-TV story and video, visit,
For photos of the event, visit http://psnk.smugmug.com/ online.
PROGRAM FOR VIGIL AT CAMPUS LION SHRINE
Tuesday, January 24
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Lighting of the Candles
Heather Lach, student
Dr. Kevin Snider, Chancellor, Penn State New Kensington
John Spadaro, Alle-Kiski Society
Myquan “Que” Harris-Moore, President, Student Government Association
Ron "Bubba" Hileman, Alumnus and former Equipment Manager
Heather Lach, student
Angie Fisher, Administrative Support Assistant, Student Affairs