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Former Penn State Coach Joe Paterno Dies at Age of 85

Justin K. Allen/Getty Images(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) -- Joe Paterno, former Penn State football coach, passed away Sunday at the age of 85.

The health of Joe Paterno, whose glittering career as Penn State’s football coach was tainted by a child sex abuse scandal, took a turn for the worse on Saturday. His wife, Suzanne Paterno, summoned close friends and longtime staff members Saturday afternoon to the State College hospital where Paterno had been undergoing treatments since last weekend, a source told the Citizen’s Voice newspaper of Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Paterno wanted to see them and say a final goodbye, the coach’s wife told one of the staff members, the source said.

Paterno family’s spokesman Dan McGinn released a statement saying: “Over the last few days Joe Paterno has experienced further health complications. His doctors have now characterized his status as serious.  His family will have no comment on the situation and asks that their privacy be respected during this difficult time.”

Paterno coached the Nittany Lions for 46 years and in 2011 became the winningest coach in Division 1 football. But before the season was over, he was abruptly dismissed as the sex scandal involving former assistant Jerry Sandusky suggested that top school officials had ignored signs of Sandusky's alleged predatory behavior.

Shortly after his dismissal, Paterno was diagnosed with lung cancer and broke his hip. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments weakened him, robbing him of his hair and his once-booming voice.

In a recent interview with the Washington Post, he appeared frail, wearing a wig and speaking in a whisper.  He canceled public appearances following the interview because of his failing health, according to family members.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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