Is There Life After Jim Thorpe for Jim Thorpe, Pa.?
Olympic Great Is Buried Near Poconos, But Son Wants Him Home in Oklahoma
By James R. Hagerty
The towns made a deal with Mr. Thorpe's widow, Patricia. She would allow his body to be buried here. They would build a "suitable memorial" on the burial site. The two towns also agreed to merge into one community named Jim Thorpe. The name of Mauch Chunk, or "bear mountain" in the Lenape Native American language, was retired.
Today, 57 years later, the bones of contention are still rattling in this town of about 4,900 people, 80 miles northwest of Philadelphia. Last month, one of Mr. Thorpe's sons, Jack Thorpe, filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Scranton, Pa., seeking to force the town to surrender the body so it can be buried with other family members near Shawnee, Okla. The town of Jim Thorpe still hasn't decided how to respond, a spokesman says.
"We just want to bring him home and put him to rest where he wanted to be," says Jack Thorpe. He has no grudge against the town: "They've always treated us well." The Chunkers, as locals here are sometimes known, honor the late athlete even though he had no connection to the area and probably never even visited.
How about embracing the location's Lenape Indian heritage instead? Create a memorial or start a festival to them, not to an Indian from across the nation. And don't cry over the loss of Thorpe's remains when your motives were so transparently commercial.
For more on Jim Thorpe the town, see Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. For more on Jim Thorpe the athlete, see Three Native Olympic Gold Medalists and Native Signs on Santa Barbara Buses.
Below: "Jim Thorpe's burial site in Jim Thorpe, Pa."