What legends the fall has made.
From crisp scholastic stacks emerges
no broad shouldered brute, no gridiron giant
but a bookish, bifocaled man.
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Disciplinarian. Educator coach.
A man with a thousand sons –
all who passed through his care
when they needed him most.
Great men begin with an ideology
With this they build an institution.
If they continue long enough
those of us who share their ideology
are prone to confuse the man with the institution
From the slings and arrows,
the trials and horrors life uncovers – we witness
no canonized saint, no infallible demigod
but a human being.
A man who also felt overwhelmed. A man who also felt fear.
A man who was betrayed by his own institution.
Of that institution, the simpler parts -
the brisk October Saturdays,
a valley soaked in golden foliage,
sun simmering on the rim of the stadium -
that’s when we’ll miss him most.
He was a man who never asked for praise,
but demanded respect.
A man who showed pride in quiet humility.
He spent a lifetime building the character
of all those around him.
One hundred thousand voices have raised up
to sing his name.
The lights burning on from an empty stadium.
leaves swept away from empty trees
As Mount Nittany stands in silent requiem.
Coke-bottle glasses collapsed.
Khaki pants neatly folded into a dresser.
A modest man who has left behind an institution
that the rest of us will carry on.