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James Cleveland Owens


Born in Danville, Alabama. He moved to Ohio as a child. He got the name "Jesse" from the way a teacher pronounced "J.C." Married Ruth Solomon in 1931. They had three children. Attended Ohio State University and graduated in 1937. He was called "The Ebony Antelope." On May 25, 1935, he had what has been called "the greatest single day in the history of man's athletic achievements." That day he broke five world records and tied a sixth. He won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin olympics.

Employed with the Office of Civil Defense in Philadelphia 1942 to 1946; with Leo Rose Sporting Goods Company 1946 to 1952. Later he was employed as secretary of the Illinois Athletics Commission 1952 to 1955. With Jesse Owens & Associates after 1955. He died in Tucson, Arizona.

Congress honored Owens with a gold medal by act of September 20, 1988. The design was by James Ferrell. The original gold medal was presented to owen's widow Ruth by President Bush March 28, 1990. Copies of the medal in bronze were sold to the public in two sizes, 3 inch (USM 952) and 1.5 inches (USM 953).

bio: ConAut 97; WAB; WWA 78-79; WWWA-7

obit: NYT 4/1/80

Source credit: Pete Smith, American Numismatic Biographies


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