As a way to honor the outstanding contributions that Oklahomans have given to their native state during their lifetime, Anna B. Korn established the Oklahoma Memorial Association and the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1927.
Since the first class was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1928, 613 Oklahomans have received the highest honor possible from the state of Oklahoma.
Two of these accomplished Oklahomans are highlighted below.
Jim Thorpe was a man who many called “the world’s greatest athlete.” Thorpe was born in 1887 near Prague, OK. He was a descendant of the noted warrior and athlete Black Hawk, who was a great chief of the Sac and Fox tribes.
Mr. Thorpe attended school at the Carlisle Industrial Indian School in Pennsylvania where he began his athletic career playing football and running track. In 1912 he competed in the Olympic Games in Antwerp, Belgium. He literally ran away with the gold medals in the pentathlon and decathlon and set longstanding records.
During his years as a professional athlete, Jim Thorpe was involved in both baseball and football, playing baseball for the New York Giants, the Boston Braves, and the Cincinnati Reds. He played football for the Canton Bulldogs and the Cleveland Indians.
He was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1950, the same year that he was named “the greatest American football player,” and “the greatest overall male athlete” by the Associated Press.
After retiring from athletics Mr. Thorpe worked as an extra in movies and toured as a public speaker and lecturer. He also served with the Merchant Marines.
Jim Thorpe died in 1953 of a heart attack. He had been married three times and had eight children.
In 1955 the Oklahoma Hall of Fame commended a noted news broadcaster who was born in Tulsa in 1918. Paul Harvey began working for radio station KVOO in Tulsa while he was still in high school. He continued working there as an announcer while he attended the University of Tulsa.
Mr. Harvey then worked in Kansas, Oklahoma City, St. Louis, and Hawaii. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor he enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces and served with them until 1944.
He went to work in Chicago in 1944, where he became Chicago’s favorite newscaster. In 1951 ABC Radio Networks began broadcasting Mr. Harvey’s “News and Comments” from coast-to-coast. In 1976 broadcasts of “The Rest of the Story” commenced, bringing listeners behind the scenes coverage of people, and events.
Mr. Harvey has won numerous awards including American of the Year, Man of the Year, Father of the Year, Commentator of the Year, 11 Freedom Foundation Awards, the Horatio Alger Award, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which he was awarded in 2005.
He is married to the former Lynne Cooper, whom he has always called Angel. They have one son, Paul, Jr.