Jim Thorpe's son Jack dies
Jack Thorpe in tribal costume
John "Jack" Thorpe, son of athlete Jim Thorpe, died in Shawnee, Oklahoma on Tuesday, at the age of 73.
He joins the spirit of his father, who is buried in Jim Thorpe.
At the time of his death, Jack Thorpe was suing the Borough of Jim Thorpe for the return of his father's remains.
Last June Jack Thorpe filed a federal lawsuit against the borough, seeking to have his father's remains returned to his homeland and re-interred near other family members in Oklahoma. He cited in the lawsuit the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
According to Michael Koehler, grandson of Jim Thorpe, Jack "had a long-standing battle with cancer, although I'm uncertain of the exact cause of his passing." Services will be at 11 a.m., Friday at Temple Baptist Church in Shawnee, Okla. He will be buried in the family plot at Garden Grove Cemetery at approximately the same location he had planned for his father.
Koehler said, "I believe that his death is a genuine tragedy and a real loss to the Indian community. He worked long and hard for Native Americans everywhere as well as for the legacy and memory of his father. I hope that the good citizens of Jim Thorpe share my feelings. He may have had an opposing view to most of us regarding the final disposition of his father's remains, but his feelings and intentions were genuine. I'm sure we all share compassion for the family and pray that God has a special place for him, perhaps very close to his father."
Jack Thorpe's lawsuit recently received a setback when a U.S. District Court decided that Jack Thorpe cannot receive any monetary award not even attorney's fees in the lawsuit, and to continue the suit Jack Thorpe would have to have family members as well as the Sac & Fox Tribe enjoin him as plaintiffs.
Jack Thorpe was born June 29, 1937, in Hawthorne, Calif. to Jacobus Franciscus "Jim" Thorpe and Freda V. Kirkpatrick Thorpe. He is survived by his wife, Matilda, three children, Gary, Mary, and Jamie, five grandchildren, and two brothers, Richard and William "Bill" Thorpe.
According to the Shawnee, Oklahoma news-star.com, "Jack's hobbies included golf, beading, straight dancing, gourd dancing, playing cards, dominoes, going for long rides and looking at the stars.
"Jack's school days were in Indian boarding schools. He attended grade school at Pawnee Indian School in Pawnee and high school at Chemawa in Lawrence, Kan., before entering the U.S. Army. After returning to Oklahoma in 1970, he attended the University of Oklahoma for one year.
"Jack started his career in Indian affairs in 1971 as a councilman for the Sac and Fox Nation in Oklahoma. In 1980, Jack became the principal chief for the Sac and Fox tribe, serving seven years.
"Over the years, Jack has served his tribal Housing Authority as a commissioner, counselor/trainer, and executive director. He has also been the director for the Kickapoo Housing Authority in McLoud and executive director for the Kickapoo Tribal Housing in Horton, Kansas. He had currently served at the Sac and Fox Housing Authority in Shawnee for the past four years."
"His father, Jim Thorpe, married three times. He married his first wife, Iva Miller, in 1913. Together they had four children, Jim Jr., Gail, Charlotte, and Grace. After the death of their first child, Jim Jr., in 1917, the marriage became troubled, and they divorced in 1923.
"Jim Thorpe married his second wife, Freda Kilpatrick, in 1925. They had four sons, Carl Phillip, William, Richard, and John 'Jack.' They divorced in 1941.
Jim Thorpe married Patricia Askew, who was with him when he died, and negotiated the transfer of Jim Thorpe's remains to Jim Thorpe following the merger of Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk into the Borough of Jim Thorpe."
"There is a tragic irony associated with this whole thing," noted Koehler, "but I'm sure he will rest comfortably and finally be reunited with his father."