Former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno died on Sunday, his family announced, after a two-month battle with lung cancer that was diagnosed near the end of the playing season, just as Paterno was fired as head coach of a team he had served 61 years.
His passing was marked across the country, including by notable figures like former President George H.W. Bush:
"I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Joe Paterno. He was an outstanding American who was respected not only on the field of play but in life generally -- and he was, without a doubt, a true icon in the world of sports. I was proud that he was a friend of mine. Barbara and I send our condolences to his devoted wife Suzanne and to his wonderful family."
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett:
"Susan and I were saddened to learn of Joe Paterno's passing. His legacy as the winningest coach in major college football and his generosity to Penn State as an institution and to his players, stand as monuments to his life. As both man and coach, Joe Paterno confronted adversities, both past and present, with grace and forbearance.
"His place in our state's history is secure."
Nebraska Athletic Director and former Republican Rep. Tom Osborne:
"I am saddened to hear the news of Joe Paterno's passing. Joe was a genuinely good person. Whenever you recruited or played against Joe you knew how he operated and that he always stood for the right things. Of course, his longevity over time and his impact on college football is remarkable. Anybody who knew Joe feels badly about the circumstances. I suspect the emotional turmoil of the last few weeks might have played into it. We offer our condolences to his family and wish them the very best."
Rep. GT Thompson, who represents the area where Penn State is located:
"Today we lost a true champion, a great coach and mentor, and a gentleman who's commitment to education and college athletics has been unparalleled. Coach Paterno's legendary status will live on in the hearts and minds of all football fans, Penn State alumni, and especially the residents of Happy Valley. My wife and I want to express our deepest condolences to the entire Paterno family. They will remain in our thoughts and prayers."