Town Named 'Jim Thorpe' Fights to Keep His Body
Sons want famed athlete moved home to Oklahoma tribal land
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 5, 2013 1:50 PM CDT
In this Jan. 12, 2010 file photo a vehicle passes Jim Thorpe's tomb, left, in Jim Thorpe, Pa.   (Matt Rourke)

(Newser) – The surviving sons of the famous American Indian athlete Jim Thorpe have long fought to get the remains of their father moved from Jim Thorpe, Pa., to tribal lands in Oklahoma, where he was born. Now they've won a crucial legal victory that puts them close to their goal—but Jim Thorpe the town isn't letting its Olympian namesake go without a fight. With donation jars that read "Keep Jim Thorpe in Jim Thorpe," locals are raising money for the town's appeal—to be filed later this month—saying they have honored a man long considered one of the 20th century's best athletes. "We have no intention of letting him go," says one.

How did this mess start? After Oklahoma's governor balked at the cost of a planned monument to Thorpe, third wife Patricia had Thorpe's body removed in the midst of his 1953 funeral and sent it to northeastern Pennsylvania, where she struck a deal with two merging towns to build a memorial and name the new town after him. "All this time we've wanted his body back because of the way that it was taken away from us," says Thorpe's son, Bill. "And we had no authority." In April, a US District Judge ruled in favor of Thorpe, his brother Richard, and the Sac and Fox tribe to which their father belonged. The case heads next to the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals, where written arguments are due Sept. 23.

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Showing 3 of 8 comments
Sep 6, 2013 8:49 PM CDT
let jim thorpe go home to oklahoma and rest in peace!
Sep 5, 2013 10:40 PM CDT
His kids should have his body back. It sounds like they got screwed when they buried his body in PA. It's their father. They should be able to bury him where they want him buried.
Sep 5, 2013 8:32 PM CDT
Sad story all around. The Sac and Fox were also relocated from the Wisconsin area.