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[[Image]]Knoxville News Sentinel-March 78 [[Image]]


Daughters Still Want Medals
Jim Thorpe Legend Lives

Grace and Gale Thorpe
Famous names, endless Project

THE LEGEND of Jim Thorpe, better than some fairy tales, is alive and well in downtown Knoxville.

The tiny flame that is the memory of this great Indian athlete is fed and fanned almost daily by two students at the University of Tennessee.

Believe it or not, Gale and Grace Thorpe, daughters of Big Jim, are busy with studies in arts and crafts. But, the Jim Thorpe story is never long out of their minds. They are convinced they can't win back their dad's Olympic honors by themselves but they refuse to give up the fight. 

"Oh yes, we remain very interested," said Grace. "Seldom does a day go by that we don't get a letter or a call about Dad. I was talking with our sister Charlotte Sunday. She's in touch with Mayor Bradley in Los Angeles, to see if he'd be willing to help. We thought we might get the medals home for the 1984 Olympics."

"We have a friend working on a script for a TV movie. I'm planning a book."

SUPPOSEDLY still crated as returned so many years ago is a jewel-studded replica of a Viking ship, handed Thorpe by the czar of Russia in honor of the pentathlon victory in the 1912 Olympics. A bronze bust of the king of Sweden was Thorpe's prize for first in the decathlon. 

Many times Grace and Gale have re- [[cut-off]]

[[cut-off]] the early '50s. He didn't like to talk about himself but I remember the story about how it was his job as a boy to catch the horses on the range. He'd laugh and say that's why he could run fast... he had to hurry."

When Grace had a job in Washington, with a Senate subcommittee in Indian affairs, she'd use the phone after work hours to promote the restoration of Thorpe's sports image. She had 30 Senators backing a resolution. She had Grace Kelley's brother, John, speaking for the Thorpe family. She won more recent support from Gerald Ford, then president. 

"We thought it might finally happen when the International Olympic Committee met in Montreal (1976). The issue was on the agenda. They didn't even discuss it. It was tabled,"says Grace.

THE THORPE sisters picked Tennessee to continue their education because the school was recommended by a friend and because it is strong in arts and crafts, a mutual interest.

"Gale is more into design. I'm interested in writing," said Grace. "I think I've found a way to help keep the Jim Thorpe story alive while I'm at UT.

"Starting in September, I plan to write a book, aimed at third-grade boys. It'll be the story of the little Indian boy who grew up to run in the Olympics, how he won and then lost. I hope to do my own illustrations.

"To tell you the truth, the issue over his medals and trophies is the reason he is so widely remembered. If there hadn't been a question over his professionalism, if the world hadn't felt the decision was wrong, he'd be just a line in the record book."

Enjoyed reading about you. Miss eating chili + french fries with you after class!
Kathy Holt
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