COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s governor on Tuesday dedicated a new state park and wildlife area named for Olympic great Jesse Owens.
Gov. John Kasich, accompanied by two of Owens’ daughters, said that achievements of “heroes” such as Owens should be preserved to inspire others to “overcome challenges and accomplish their very best.”
Owens was a world record-setting sprinter at Ohio State University and won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. He died in 1980 at age 66.
“He’s one of my heroes,” Kasich said at the ceremony at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus. “He jumped and he jumped and he jumped into glory — and history,” Kasich said of Owens’ long-jump gold. “He sent a message to Hitler: He was not ever going to triumph.”
The governor personally chose to name the park after Owens, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
Jesse Owens State Park and Wildlife Area in eastern Ohio was created after Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources struck a deal with American Electric Power to buy a large portion of a 60,000-acre (24,281-hectare) parcel. The state hopes to buy more land from AEP to create the largest park in the state.
The money came from hunting and fishing license fees and parks and watercraft funds.
Kasich was joined Tuesday by Owen’s daughters Marlene Owens Rankin and Beverly Owens Prather. Both women now live in Chicago.
“What an incredible honor,” Rankin said. “He would be amazed and proud at such recognition. … It’s more than he ever would have imagined, preserving his memory in such an indelible way.”
The land spans parts of Guernsey, Morgan, Muskingum and Noble counties in eastern Ohio.