DEAD: Jesse Owens

DEAD: ON THIS DATE

Jesse Owens (aged 66)
American track and field athlete

James Cleveland “Jesse” Owens (September 12, 1913 – March 31, 1980) was an American track and field athlete and four-time gold medalist in the 1936 Olympic Games.

DEATH: Owens was a pack-a-day cigarette smoker for 35 years, starting at age 32. Beginning in December 1979, he was hospitalized on and off with an extremely aggressive and drug-resistant type of lung cancer. He died of the disease at age 66 in Tucson, Arizona, on March 31, 1980, with his wife and other family members at his bedside. He was buried at Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago. Although Jimmy Carter had ignored Owens’ request to cancel the Olympic boycott, the President issued a tribute to Owens after he died: “Perhaps no athlete better symbolized the human struggle against tyranny, poverty and racial bigotry.”

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