Paterno Statue Proposal

I received the following through obscure channels. It is reproduced verbatim. I don’t know how serious this proposal is, and whether it is indeed gaining traction with the town fathers. However, it is interesting.

Proposal – The ‘Joe Paterno Reflections Bench’ on Inspiration Way

May 2013

Joe Paterno Statue Proposal

Concept: Honor Joe Paterno by memorializing the simple moment above by recreating it as a statue, to be installed in front of the mural @ Inspiration Way in downtown State College.

Detail: The candid photo above captures a personal, intimate glimpse of the Joe Paterno we all knew and will always love – a simple, unpretentious man, taking a moment to reflect in thought among his fellow Nittany Lions, while enjoying ice cream outside the Creamery. As is true with the core values that guided his life, its beauty lies in its simplicity.

Admittedly, such a statue is in stark contrast to the original Joe Paterno statue placed in front of Beaver Stadium, which was understandably tied more closely to Penn State football and Joe’s accomplishments as a great coach. While those accomplishments are undeniable, they do not solely define Joe Paterno. On the contrary, the intent with the new statue concept is to focus more introspectively on the man and his life’s accomplishments, and more accurately reflect the man that he was…and why WE ARE. In the image above, Joe is as approachable as any other State College citizen – indicative of the man who walked to work much of his life. It symbolizes the fact that he was not a God – but a man, with flaws like all of us. He is human. One with us, and we are one with him. For, we ALL are Penn State.

Capturing Joe in a reflective state is also intentional. The statue ideally would be located on Inspiration Way overlooking Michael Pilato’s mural on Heister Street. In this fashion, Joe is seen reflecting on the mural and what it teaches us – who we are, where we’ve been, and where are we going. It is also reassuring to know that as the Penn State/State College community evolves and grows, and with it the ever-changing mural, Joe will always be there as a constant figure guiding us forward – a gentle reminder to make Penn State a better place.

By keeping the seat next to Joe open, he invites us all in to share the experience, reflect, and learn with him – just as he and his family were so generous to share his life publicly with the Penn State community.

While not seen in the photo, Joe’s love of education and reading can be personalized by adding some of his favorite books on the bench sitting next to him. Other ideas to personalize the statue further can easily be added.


To memorialize Joe’s love of the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling, the poem can be engraved on a plaque and installed at Joe’s feet, to be placed among the other bricks of Inspiration Way. This would allow those who sit next to the bench to see the poem from his perspective, and reflect on its meaning, and why he loved it so. (Note – full poem at end of this proposal. )

Inscribed Quotes:

Below is an example of many possible Joe Paterno’s quotes that can be inscribed on bench:

  • Right Arm of Bench – Success With Honor
  • Left Arm of Bench: The Grand Experiment
  • Back of Bench: “Believe deep down in your heart that you are destined to do great things.”

Sue Paterno Addition

As a possible addition to the concept above, and to honor Sue Paterno’s long list of achievements, a 2nd statue of Sue could be added standing behind Joe, with one of her hands on his shoulders. That simple gesture is very indicative of the support she gave throughout his life. In her other arm, she could carry mementos of her favorite causes (Catholic Center, Special Olympics, etc). Again, this idea is open to may personalization possibilities.

Cost Estimates of Statue (excluding installation, etc)

  • Joe On Bench – $200,000
  • Joe on Bench with Sue behind – $300,000


With Penn State’s large alumni base, we believe the funds could be raised relatively easily and quickly. The following donors need to be looked at more thoroughly, and a fundraising strategy finalized:

  • Corporate
  • Alumni
  • Individual donors

Possible Alternative Locations (note – until relations with the University leadership improve, we do not feel it is feasible to place the statue on campus)

  • Sunset Park (McKee St)
  • Sue Paterno Catholic Center
  • Boalsburg Park
  • Corner of Beaver Ave/Fraser

Thus far, State College authorities seem very interested in allowing the statue to be placed downtown.

* * * * * *

“If” by Rudyard Kipling

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!


So, what do you think? Does anyone know whether this is moving forward at all? 


  1. Joe says

    I saw this picture a few years back and was moved by the composition and overall serenity of Joe just enjoying a few minutes of “quiet time”. Someone made the comment that this would have been a more appropriate statue than the one placed outside the Beav, but never heard anymore until your post.

    While I think it would be an appropriate way to honor Joe, I just don’t think you’ll see any statuary of him, even if it’s off-campus until well after the sanctions expire.

  2. says

    If people are interested, this statue would be placed along Michael Pilato’s Inspiration Way on Heister St. The memorial brick project needs to be completed first before this project can happen. If you care to purchase a brick and contribute to this project, please visit

  3. says

    Hello-yes this is our proposed project. We are working on The Inspiration Way Memorial Walk-through the Public Art Academy a not for profit organization. The walk is designed to give supporters a chance to honor Joe Paterno & the heroes of state college.
    Bricks are available in 3 sizes. To find out more about us & look into the information about our projects please visit us at” to purchase a brick
    Melinda Wright
    Project Manager
    Inspiration Way

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