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Gene J. Puskar, Associated Press
Sue Paterno, center, wife of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, consoles her grandson as they leave a memorial service for Joe at Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pa., Thursday Jan. 26, 2012. A capacity crowd of more than 12,000 packed the Bryce Jordan Center for one more tribute to Paterno, the Hall of Fame football coach who died Sunday from lung cancer.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Joe Paterno was the public face of Penn State for decades, and tributes to the late coach highlight the influences his wife had on her husband, the football program and the university.

The Paternos were about as close to royalty as one could be in Happy Valley — a modest first family of college football.

Sue Paterno has served as a host to potential recruits, counselor to concerned parents, tutor to players and prodigious fundraiser for the university library. The library is where Joe and Sue met when he was an assistant coach and she a freshman.

They have five children and 17 grandchildren. They were almost always near each other and together again when he died this week at 85, a few months after being diagnosed with lung cancer.