Although famed athlete Jim Thorpe always desired to be buried on his native Sac and Fox Nation lands in Oklahoma, his estranged 3rd wife Patsy, “stormed in with state police during his traditional tribal burial ceremony there in 1953, and seized his remains. The tribal rituals were never completed, and Jim Thorpe’s spirit could not complete its journey.
She then spent nearly a year, Patsy dragging his body around the country, seeking the highest bidder before hitting on a deal with 2 small coal-mining towns in eastern Pennsylvania (with no connection to Thorpe) to “create a thriving tourist destination, the two towns merged to form the Borough of Jim Thorpe with plans to establish a football shrine, an Olympic stadium, and a Thorpe-branded sporting goods factory, as well as a tourist hotel to be named “Jim Thorpe’s Teepees.”
According to the Native American Rights Fund, ” Patsy got paid, handed over his remains, and the borough built an above-ground mausoleum to hold his body. Inflicting further injury upon the devastating harm already done, the borough staged a mock Native American ceremony, placed his remains in the mausoleum, and opened for business – which never materialized!” In the meantimr, his sons have spent nearly 60-years trying to return honor his last wishes and “bring him home, and are now asking for the public’s health through a social media campaign on Facebook andTwitter. #BringJimThorpeHome
Jim Thorpe (aka Wa-tha-huk or Light after the Lightning or Bright Path) by the Thunder Clan of Black Hawk, was voted Greatest Athlete of the 20th Century in a poll taken by ABC’s Wide World of Sports in 2000, beating out 14 other athletes including Muhammad Ali, Babe Ruth, Jesse Owens, Wayne Gretzky, Jack Nicklaus, and Michael Jordan. His remarkable accomplishments in the 1912 Olympics, winning gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon, were matched by his skills in professional baseball (1913-19) and professional football (1917-29). In 1920, Jim Thorpe was selected as the first president of the American Professional Football Association, which became the National Football League in 1922, and he was an inaugural inductee of the Pro-Football Hall of Fame.
Although most biographers claim he was born May 22, 1887, Thorpe, himself, maintained that his actual birthday was May 28, 1888. He died March 28, 1953.
Thorpe had 4 children, Jim Jr. (who died at the age of 2), Grace, Charlotte and Gale with his first wife, Iva Miller, and 4 sons, Richard, Jack, Carl and William with 2nd wife Freeda V. Kirkpatrick. Both marriages ended in divorce.