Joe Paterno - Early Life

Early Life

Paterno was born December 21, 1926, in Brooklyn, New York, and throughout his life he spoke with a marked Brooklyn accent. He was the son of Florence de LaSalle Cafiero, a homemaker, and Angelo Lafayette Paterno, a law clerk. His family was of Italian ancestry. In 1944, Paterno graduated from the old Brooklyn Preparatory School. Six weeks later he was drafted into the Army. Paterno spent a year in the Army before being discharged in time to start the 1946 school year at Brown University where his tuition was paid by Busy Arnold.

In college Paterno was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Upsilon chapter). He played quarterback and cornerback for the Brown Bears, and shares the career record for interceptions with Greg Parker at 14. Paterno graduated in 1950. Although his father asked, "For God's sake, what did you go to college for?" after hearing of his career choice, Paterno joined Rip Engle as an assistant coach at Penn State in 1950; Engle had coached five seasons, 1944–1949, at Brown. Engle announced his retirement in February 1966, and Paterno was named his successor.

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