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Penn State

Published March 16. 2012 05:01PM

Two years ago, I did a history column on James Beaver, the namesake of Penn State's football stadium.

For a headline, we had some fun with the Beaver name. "No, PSU stadium wasn't named after the animal!" it stated.

One of four generals who went on to serve as governor of Pennsylvania, Beaver was wounded five times during the Civil War, the most serious coming at the Battle of Reams Station when a bullet went through his right thigh, shattering the bone and requiring amputation just below the hip.

Along with his law practice in Centre County, Beaver also led an active business and civic life. He played a pivotal role in founding the state and local chapters of the Young Men's Christian Association, more commonly known as the YMCA. In fact, 24 years before taking the governor's seat in Harrisburg, Beaver visited Tamaqua to help raise funds for its YMCA.

Beaver had glowing words for Tamaqua that night.

"Tamaqua, a town that is considered to be one of the fastest growing in the state, one that people in other parts of, not only this state but other states as well, are hearing of it being an active, wide-awake town," he stated.

Today, according to a Quinnipiac University poll, there's strong support to rename Penn State's football stadium in honor of its legendary coach Joe Paterno, who died in January.

After polling nearly 1,300 registered Pennsylvania voters over six days earlier this month, the results showed that 46 percent thought the school should rename Beaver Stadium, while 40 percent were opposed.

The university has said it is working on plans to memorialize Paterno, who was a living legend at Penn State before his life was clouded by the sex abuse scandal involving former assistant Jerry Sandusky. Paterno was fired in November for a "failure of leadership."

Ironically, in pointing out Beaver's abilities as a Civil War officer, I did link Paterno to my history column two years ago.

"Beaver's field leadership as a Civil War officer would make Penn State coaching legend Joe Paterno proud," it stated.

Now that both are gone, Penn State will be deciding if the Paterno name is worthy to be attached to the facility he helped to build or, because of his involvement in the Sandusky case, that the Paterno legacy is too tarnished to have that distinction.

By Jim Zbick

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