ST. MARYS – My reflections of Joe Paterno go back to Sept. 26, 1978, when I attended a luncheon in State College at Gatsby's Restaurant. Joe Paterno was in attendance; President Gerald Ford; George H.W. Bush was the national Republican chairman; Governor Dick Thornburgh; Lt. Gov. Bill Scranton; Congressman Bill Clinger were all in attendance at the luncheon. Speakers for this luncheon were President Ford, Congressman Clinger and Joe Paterno.
It was quite an experience and I was able to take the program for the luncheon and I got all these dignitaries' autographs, which I had framed and it hangs in the room where I have all of my political pictures, autographs and memorabilia.
Time passes, and in August of 1988, I was the secretary of the state Republican Party and delegate-at-large for the 23rd Congressional District. I went to New Orleans, La. for the Republican National Convention, which was held in the Superdome. I served as the secretary for the Pennsylvania Delegation and was a delegate-at-large.
The first day of the convention, we went down and found our assigned seats, and taped to the back in front of me was a board with three red phones on it, and I asked our state chairman, Earl Baker, what the phones were for, and he informed me that I was to sit there and command those red telephones. One phone went right into George Bush's press box at the convention, the other phone was connected to the national Republican chairman's box, and the other phone was connected into the press box for President Ronald Reagan - he was still president at the time.
It was really something, the responsibility that I was assuming. It was an extremely important task that I had to perform, and I remember every detail of that convention.
Each state has a standard with their name on top, and the Pennsylvania standard was right by the first row where I was seated. I found out two weeks prior going to New Orleans that Joe Paterno was giving the seconding speech for George Bush, so I drove to State College and I bought a Penn State ball cap. The night that the nominations for George Bush were being held, I wore my Penn State ball cap to the convention. With me sitting so close to the standard, when Joe Paterno was escorted to the floor, Joe looked over at me and saw the Penn State ball cap on my head, gave me a thumbs-up, and shook my hand. Standing where I was made me able to get a picture of Joe Paterno reading the seconding speech for George Bush. This picture, I treasure. It probably is one-of-a-kind. I don't know.
Grace Jesberger is a St. Marys resident and has been the Republican State Committee member from Elk County since 1984.
Pick up a copy of the Friday, Feb. 10, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.