Thorpe Award founder Lynne Draper has died
Lynne Draper, a behind-the-scenes force in Oklahoma City's sports world for many years, died Thursday.
He was 79.
The cause of death isn't known.
Draper founded the Jim Thorpe Association, which ultimately grew into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, and the Jim Thorpe Award. The award is given annual to college football's top defensive back, and it was started in 1986, in part to boost the image Oklahoma City at a time when the economy was down and so was the city's psyche.
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In 2008, the award and the museum moved into a 40,000-square-foot facility just north of the state capital.
Draper, the executive director for 25 years, retired in 2011.
"Lynne was a tireless advocate for the Jim Thorpe Association and the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame for over 30 years," the hall said in a statement released on its Facebook page. "He spent countless hours raising funds and collecting memorabilia to preserve Oklahoma's rich sports heritage.
"He will be truly missed."
In 2012, Draper was inducted into the hall of fame that he helped build. Now Oklahoma City mayor Mick Cornett birthed the idea of a sports hall of fame in Oklahoma, but Draper was the driving force behind the fundraising for the permanent museum and the item collection for the exhibits.
"To me ... it’s a monument to the greatness of the people of this state,” Draper said in 2009 before the museum's opening. The items tell the story. It’s really the story of the people.”
The hall indicated Thursday that funeral arrangements are unknown.