“Sir, you are the greatest athlete in the world.” For Jim Thorpe, this amazing remark was a common compliment. Thorpe was a track and field star, a baseball hero, and a football champion. To me, he defines what it means to be an all-around athlete. Thorpe died when he was 64 years old. Now, more than 50 years after the pro was laid to rest, his living children and his tribe are fighting to bring him home.
Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania is located in the snowy Pocono Mountains. Their high school is named after the famous man. He inspired their mascot – the Olympians. Yet, the Oklahoma native hasn’t attracted nearly enough tourists to help the town. The two-time Olympic gold medalist never even visited the small community. So why was Thorpe buried there? After Thorpe’s death, his widow signed a contract that stated that Thorpe’s remains would be buried in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. And they have been, without dispute… until now.
Last year, Jack Thorpe, his youngest son, sued the northeastern town. Jack died in February. Flash-forward: His two remaining sons, William and Richard, are joining in the battle against Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. They never supported entombing their father in the Keystone State. The two have joined up with Thorpe’s tribe, the Sac and Fox Nation, to bury him in Oklahoma and finally obey his wishes.
The rose-colored tomb that stands proudly in the heart of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania represents the amazing athletic ability and versatile nature of an All-American sports icon. But the determination and persistence of his family and tribe shows the great impact he made on the ones around him.