Nittany Nightmare Takes Its Toll: Joe Paterno “JoePa” Loses Cancer Battle, Death at 85 Denied By Family

Joe Paterno,  Coaching icon of the Nittany Lions Football Club at Penn State passed away this evening at 85.

At least that is what an email announcement to an insider forwarded to stated.   An earlier report by CBS was also refuted by the Paterno family.  Check back to for this developing story.


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  1. Ragdoll says:

    I JUST read about this on people’s web site. My prayers go to his family. I can’t help but ask….how this will affect further investigation and his inability to testify during the trial.

    It is likely that his GJ testimony will be introduced at trial unless he was already deposed, which I doubt.

    As a corroborator of McQueary, the sole one as my dear friend lizzy pointed out, I have to wonder who knew what and when about Coach Paterno’s condition.

    I am so very saddened that he went out like this. My prayers are with Coach and his family tonight.


  2. Ragdoll says:

    I just found this link, story posted only 2 hours ago.

    What’s up with that? Is he or isn’t he?

    I agree with you. This will be an especially difficult time for the family. God bless~~~

    The family has denied his passing so I have modified my title, but I can tell you I read an email from a family member that says otherwise, and other PSU contacts have confirmed they were told as well.

    That said, I respect the fact they would like to make their own announcement, we shall see.


  3. Ragdoll says:

    Got it…thanks for the clarification. Again, my condolences.

  4. lizzy says:

    The first news of JoePa’s death (alleged) went out around 9 p.m. on a Saturday night. The Paternos are classier than the BOTs, and they love Penn State and the surrounding State College neighborhoods.

    Whether Joe has passed away or not, they are classy to either hold the news back, or make sure everyone knows it was an error in reporting.

    Either way, prayers with the Paternos.

    I agree that there are a few factors at play here, and I also suspect the recent “chattiness” by members of the BOT may be based on this pending news.

  5. Rose says:

    very saddening

  6. connie says:

    My prayers for Paterno’s family.

  7. Ode says:

    Strange the new this morning said he was in serious condition. No doubt the stress of what has happened has been heavy for JoePa. I send prayers to his family that has been so affected I am sure by all that has happened as of late. CS can blame himself for one small nail here. We can learn from this that what you do in your life affects MANY. What you do not do in life can affect MANY.

  8. beejay says:

    Everybody coming to this latest thread to continue posts on any Sandusky subject? I am.

    Acc to what I just found, here’s the book Betsy Aardsma was looking for in the stacks–and why:

    “She went to Joukovsky’s office. Joukovsky wanted her to bring him a book, G. A. Aiken’s “The Life and Works of John Arbuthnot,” which she had used for another assignment.

    “I was evaluating that previous project and I wanted to see that key book,” Joukovsky said. “I asked her if she still had it out of the library. She said, ‘No, I’ve taken it back, but I’m going up there right after I’m done here and I’ll bring it back to you.’ ”

    She left his office just after 4 p.m. She went to Professor Harrison Meserole’s office before leaving her roommate and talking to a few other friends.

    Betsy headed for the stacks. She bumped into another girl, who asked her for a pen. Betsy walked down the stairs and into the stacks. ”


  9. beejay says:


    Tried to get your book at Barnes and Noble down in GA. They didn’t have it; so I ordered it online. Hoping your next one will have wide national/international appeal–and will be on the Sandusky/Penn State scandal.

    As I mentioned earlier, it might be that the tie-in to your previous research would be thru Betsy and Richard Haefner. My thinking is that Sandusky might have already been an active child sex abuser when he came to PSU in 1969. And might have known of others there; or maybe didn’t know of them, and there’s a more tenuous connection. But enough to bridge the publishing gap.

    I would add to your query if @info is aware of just who JJ is?


    I see that you were posting as littlehorn some years back at Websleuths. And had a number of exchanges with the poster JJ in Phila about Betsy. Just curious: does JJ share your view now that Haefner killed Betsy? (Knowing you two are both locals, thought you might be in touch personally by now.)

  10. Ode says:

    Sorry I do not mean CS I mean JS in my above post. More coffee needed.

  11. wpg says:

    Aw, very sad.
    The family has announced his passing.

    Prior to Sandusky matter, I had never known JoePa to be anything but a kind man, and I pray for peace for his soul and for his family and friends.


  12. connie says:

    To the Penn State Nation- my deepest sympathy. Paterno was a great coach.

  13. Rose says:
    great reads. to think Gricar’s investigator retired to be a public high school security guard. small town.
    could JJ (still writing in 2012 on WS) be JJ Klaver? where are those 250 blogs JJ refers to on Aardsma?

  14. erose says:

    Heartbreaking news. This seems to only gets sadder by the day.

  15. vidda says:

    Thank you,Blink,that you are taking the right side again

    Missed you, friend!

    Happy New Year to you and your family

  16. Malty says:

    This is very sad
    Prayers for the Family

  17. A Texas Grandfather says:

    My condolences to the family. JoPa may have been much further along with his ilness than anyone realized.

    I just hope the investigators have good solid information since he cannot be of any further help.

    Kindergarten is over for Joe. He will now have an opportunity to cure all of his mortal defects. RIP.

  18. Rose says:

    well did anyone else read up small cell lung cancer? aggressive, rapidly growing. fatal very quickly.
    the positive spin withholding the truth, or rather saying the opposite, was a doctor & family’s perogative to protect Mr P or protect Mother or Calm the public. each faces imminent death differently & the grief for a good man is strong. It sounds like he was both loved & protected by all who knew him for years.
    Last night NPR here played the Knute Rockne/Gipper story (with Reagan & Wray) on their Sunday evening storie. The Rockne story seemed so similar to Paterno’s.

  19. GeorgiaDad says:

    His family said he had “treatable lung cancer”. That almost always means terminal (non-curable) cancer. I assume that one of the reasons he passed so quickly was that he had nothing to live for (Bear Bryant died just weeks after he was forced out at Alabama). JoePa should have retired years ago, but he and Bobby Bowden were locked into their competition for winningest coach.

    As far as his behavior in the Sandusky matter, I agree that he should have been let go, but, should have been offered the opportunity to retire.

    His reaction and actions were not excusable, but I suspect that he could never quite bring himself to believe that his friend could commit such an act.

    Blink, I do not mean to tell you how to run your blog, but, a JoePa death thread may not be the best place to continue a Sandusky thread.

    Good Point, I had not thought of that.

  20. pale rider says:

    This is heartbreaking. The PSU scandal aside, I admired the man for decades.

    When PSU let him go I told my husband he would be dead within the year, sadly it is so.

    My sincerest condolences to his family, friends, and players who loved him.

    RIP, JoePa.

    Love, V

  21. Rose says:

    i agree. im back to Sandusky ive felt bad about that too–like posting on a condolence board

  22. OK here we go.

    I have talked with JJ in Philadelphia. Don’t know him personally. He seems like a reasonable guy. He’s still skeptical about Haefner, and I can’t blame him – despite everything we uncovered, with both Rick and Betsy dead, we’ll never know *for sure*. I really hoped that a smoking gun would be found but thus far, nothing has come to light like that.

    We’ve only ever spoken through email, on Websleuths and he did do a blog entry at the CDT about my working on all of this.

    I’d love to write the Sandusky cover-up book but I suspect there are at least half a dozen reporters for the CDT or the Harrisburg Patriot that are way ahead of me there (Patriot broke the story and reporter Sara Ganim has really led the way with coverage of the whole thing). I see that the Patriot already compiled an e-book of their coverage.

    With Joe now dead, it will be that much harder to ever find out what he knew, etc. I kind of hoped the passing of time might lead him to eventually give up more information.

    If, and it’s a big IF, I can put it together, I’d like to do a book about the Haefner molestation trial. It’s really quite a story and leaves you wondering whether Rick molested the kids at all. I have no doubt in my mind he molested kids, but the police case on the ’76 trial was almost nonexistent.

    I say that having read nearly all of the existing original documentation, transcripts, etc. All of which was supposed to be expunged, BTW, but which I was able to put together again.

  23. I too am sad for Joe. My grandfather really respected Paterno and as a former PSU grad, and good judge of character, I felt he was probably right in doing so.

    As I told my father back in November when this was all breaking: “I’ll never say ‘I’m glad my grandfather is dead’” — but dad, I’m glad grandpa didn’t live to see this.”

    I wish Joe’s family all the peace in the world.

  24. @beejay

    Yes, from my understanding B&N has the book placed with a fairly regional bias to it — Michigan, Pennsylvania, and a bit down into Maryland — but doesn’t have it nationwide, although they can order it from the distributor to send to any store in the country.

    Let me know what you thought about it/leave a review for me. Appreciate it!

  25. Ragdoll says:

    @ GeorgiaDad says:

    January 23, 2012 at 11:13 am

    My mother in law died of lung cancer…the ‘deadly’ kind. IIRC, JoePa was still taking chemo. A man at that age…chemo would reak havoc on his immune system. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that pneumonia is what killed him. I admit, I was shocked to learn he passed so quickly after diagnosis but B brought up a great point…when exactly was he diagnosed?

    Stress of the sitch would have worsened his ability to fight. From my own experience with my mom in law, it’s a a battle you never want to see a loved one go through.

    I agree with GA…Sandusky and JoePa should be seperated from this mess. No doubt JoePa went to his death with a heartful of regrets and guilt. We can all agree he didn’t do the right thing. Actually, he failed. We can’t change that anymore but we can still get justice and fight for victims. We can still bring the bad guy/s down!

    Just my 2 cents….again. :s

  26. beejay says:

    @WhoKilledBetsy: Thanks for all your responses and commentary. I have several books on my desk right now, but when yours arrives I’ll definitely put it on top.

    Trying to piece this together a bit now, with Betsy. Do you know anything further about Terry Hess, who testified on behalf of Haefner?

    What I know has already been posted here. I can’t figure out why he and Haefner were so tight that he’d be at the trial. Had he not been there in the first place, he’d never have been in the courthouse men’s room to hear the alledged witness tampering.

    And, where is Hess now?

  27. beejay says:

    Sorry I misdirected everyone to move over here. I felt awkward here, too. So, let’s all go back to the other thread, except for comments about JoePa’s passing–those stay here.

    Per Blink, on the older thread:

    I would prefer to keep us chatting her outside of any comments to the JoePa passing specifically.

    Thanks everyone and I am heading to the corner :(

  28. K, I ansered your questions from here, on the old thread.

  29. sunshine says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with the Paterno family. I have seen first hand all the good Joe Paterno and his wife Sue have done for Penn State. I can remember countless hours of studying in the “stacks” in the library that bares their name, and dressing my daughter up in a nittany lion costume this year for her first halloween…little did we know what was about to come to light. Joe also helped with women’s sports on campus incredibly as well, especially women’s bball. I believe and know in my heart of hearts that Joe Paterno was a good man, and I pray for peace for his soul.

  30. beejay says:

    Just read today’s AP story that the Paterno family plans to set up a website to sell DVDs of his memorial service, with proceeds to go to charity.

    I do so wish the family would honor him, and his near-death comment that he wished he had done more, by donating to a charity relating to child abuse, a survivor’s network, or something similar. I really believe Mr. Paterno meant his statement of regret, and might have eventually made donations to such a charity himself.

  31. sunshine says:

    I agree beejay, so far, they are requesting donations to THON, the dance marathon at penn state, which I can say is an AMAZING cause and the largest student run philanthropy in the world. it benefits pediatric cancer and raises millions of dollars every year. I know that it’s a cause close to penn staters hearts, THON is in two weeks, check out the website if you get a chance, it’s pretty amazing.

    I hope they will be donating to a charity related to child abuse as well with the proceeds of the memorial video :)

  32. wpg says:

    How utterly sad and surreal . . .

    CNN Breaking News:

    Whitney Houston has passed away at 48 years old.

    Thank you wpg, I got the wire alert. I saw Ms. Houston live in the old Vet Stadium when I was 20.

    I cannot think of a song of hers I do not know by heart- I so wanted to see such a brilliant artist make it through the dark, if you will.

    God Rest, and sing some more, will ya?

    Blondie in row 37

  33. J. J in Phila says:

    I’ve never met “Who Killed Betsy,” but I admire his work and found it inspiring. I also did a blog on it:

    I would not call it “proven,” but I think he has put forward a consistent case. Haefner should be a POI.

    One thing that he did, very well, was rule out Professor Durgy. When I was there 15 years later, the speculation was that it was him.

    Why should Haefner be a POI?

  34. J. J in Phila says:

    I think “Who Killed Betsy” made what I would call a “consistent case.” The information he presented is consistent with Haefner being the killer. That said, there could be other explanations for the same evidence.

    For example, Haefner appeared at a professor’s house, out of breath after the murder and indicated that he had heard about it. Could he have heard about Ms. Aardsma, was shocked because someone he knew was killed? Was it because he’d just done it?

    That one piece of information could indicate two different things. It is consistent with Haefner being the murderer, but it could have other explanations.

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