Posts Tagged ‘Grace Thorpe’

Jim Thorpe to be Moved?

June 25, 2010

Yesterday, Jack Thorpe, the son of Jim Thorpe, sued the Borough of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, for the return of his father’s remains. When asked about the law suit that was filed in Federal Court in Scranton, he stated that he waited until the last of his sisters had passed to avoid disharmony in the family. The sisters, children of Jim Thorpe’s first wife, especially Grace the activist, supported the eastern location for their father’s remains. Jack and his brothers were the issue of Big Jim’s second marriage. The arrangement to have her, by the time this happened, very late husband interred in what had previously been called Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk were made by Jim’s third, and last, wife.

The State of Oklahoma had the opportunity to provide a fitting memorial after he died but failed to support it. In the spring of 1953, the Shawnee, Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce planned to erect a memorial to Jim Thorpe on an 80-acre tract at a cost of $100,000. The State Legislature even appropriated $25,000 toward the cost of the memorial, but Governor Johnston Murray vetoed it. The Chamber of Commerce gave Mrs. Thorpe $3,000 in “expense money” with understanding that she would bring the body to Shawnee.

By early September, little money had been raised and she said that the rent on the crypt in Shawnee hadn’t been paid and that, “I was afraid he’d wind up in Potter’s Field.” The Chamber of Commerce was unaware that crypt rental was due. She then moved his body to Tulsa where plans “are pretty far along.” She announced that a five-man committee, of which three were Tulsans, had been formed to build a monument to be known as the Jim Thorpe memorial and foundation somewhere in the Tulsa area. (to be continued)

Jaycees’ Petition

November 6, 2008

I had occasion to talk with Robert W. Wheeler, the author of the definitive biography of Jim Thorpe, and used this opportunity to discuss the hearings, the Jaycees, etc. Bob does not know Mr. Sheaffer so cannot comment on his efforts. However, in 1978 he had significant contact with the Jaycees on a national level, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Almost immediately after Jim Thorpe’s Olympic honors were stripped from him in 1913, campaigns were started to restore his medals and his records. Bob recalled that what seemed like hundreds of campaigns involving were such people as Damon Runyon, FDR, and Branch Rickey, but all were unsuccessful. The unsuccessful list includes the one Sheaffer mentioned that was from Yale, OK and was headed by Grace Thorpe.

In 1978, the Jaycees redoubled their efforts and gathered over a million signatures on a petition to have Jim Thorpe’s Olympics triumphs restored. Bo Wheeler recalls that the Jaycees’ petitions were a major part of the nationwide effort which gathered over three and a half million signatures. As part of this effort Bob Wheeler and Jack Thorpe addressed the Jaycees’ national convention. Unfortunately, that was not the year of the final breakthrough. That would happen a few years later when Bob’s wife and researcher-in-her-own-right, Florence Ridlon, found the 1912 Olympic rule book lost in the stacks of the Library of Congress. The rest, as they say, is history.