San Diego, CA – July 11, 2019 – Bill Thorpe, son of legendary athlete Jim Thorpe, went to join his ancestors on July 4th, at the age of 90. He was surrounded by his loved ones at the time of his passing.
Bill was born on August 16, 1928 to Jacobus Franciscus “Jim” Thorpe and Freda V. Kirkpatrick Thorpe in Marion, Ohio. He attended Indian boarding schools in California and Nevada and later joined the U.S. Navy for the end of World War II. Eventually, he was drafted into the Army and served in Korea. He later went to work for Vaught Aircraft Manufacturing and was transferred to Texas in the late 1970's where retired there after 40 years.
Due to his own boarding school experience and his passion for his father’s legacy, Bill was an ardent supporter of the upcoming feature film, BRIGHT PATH: THE JIM THORPE STORY. He immediately took to the filmmaker’s vision for the story and was instrumental in the project coming together, granting the filmmakers the rights to tell the story.
Abraham Taylor, one of the film’s producers said: “Bill was a wonderful friend and mentor. When we first met, we played a round of golf, even at 84 he was a heck of a golfer. I remember feeling overjoyed at the opportunity to play any sport with Jim Thorpe’s son! It is a memory I’ll always cherish. I’ll also be forever grateful for his passion for and support of bringing an authentic version of his father’s story to the big screen. He’s an invaluable part of what we’re doing, and I’ll always be grateful to him for his belief in our team.”
Chairman Rick Hill, one of the film’s Executive Producers said, “Bill had a heart of gold. I only wish he could have lived to see the completed movie. May the Creator bless him on his journey.”
National Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernie Stevens Jr. said, "I've known Bill Thorpe since I was a young man. I knew him as a strong and gentle man, always willing to help others, and it wasn't until I got to be older and involved in athletics, that I understood the legacy of his family. He was an amazing role model for me. Aside from the great legacy of his father, Bill was a hero to me because of his kind and Warrior mentality."
Bill is survived by his brother, Richard Thorpe, of Waurika, OK, and his niece, Anita Thorpe, of Oklahoma City, OK. Bill was loved by many nieces, nephews, family and dear friends.
A memorial service in honor of Bill Thorpe will be hosted by the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday, July 25, at 10:00 a.m., at 4040 N. Lincoln Blvd., OKC, OK 73105 (Former location of the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame/Jim Thorpe Museum).
In lieu of flowers, the family requested donations be made to the Jim Thorpe Museum, in Oklahoma City, to honor Jim Thorpe and the family's legacy. You can contact the Jim Thorpe Museum by calling 405-427-1400 or make a donation on their website at www.OKSportsHOF.org.