Tributes: Former OU star Jim Grisham dies at 69
A tribute to people with Oklahoma ties who had a role in sports.
*Alabama coach Bear Bryant said Jim Grisham “is as hard a runner as we have ever seen.” Grisham was a consensus All-American in 1963 after playing both fullback and linebacker for the Oklahoma Sooners. The All-State player from Olney, Texas, averaged 5.2 yards per carry over the 1962-64 seasons at OU. He finished with 2,404 yards and 18 touchdowns. Grisham was drafted by the NFL's Minnesota Vikings and AFL's Houston Oilers, although the three-time All-Big Eight selection never played professional football. Grisham earned an industrial engineering degree from OU in 1965 and went to work in that field. He was a North Carolina resident at the time of death at age 69.
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*Sally Akin of Oklahoma City succumbed to cancer at age 67. She was a former cheerleader and basketball homecoming queen at Putnam City High School. While attending Oklahoma State, she married high school sweetheart Harold Akin, a tackle for the Cowboys' football team and later for the San Diego Chargers. The Akins raised four boys, including Zac, who would star in football at Putnam City North and Oklahoma State.
*Fred Purcell Jr. was a dentist and real estate investor by trade. As a youngster, he was a successful athlete, particularly at Harding High School, where he starred in basketball and baseball. Purcell was a 6-foot forward who averaged 20.3 points as a senior in 1967; later that year, he was an outfielder for the Eagles' baseball team and then for Modern Office Supply in the Oklahoma City Industrial League. Purcell helped Harding High reach the Class A state baseball tournament in '67, collecting four RBIs behind a single, double and triple in a 13-0 regional victory over Durant. In a state semifinal game, he had an inside-the-park homer during a 3-1 loss to El Reno. Purcell lettered in 1968 for the OU baseball team before transferring to the Baylor School of Dentistry. Purcell, who was a scratch golfer as an adult, lived in Austin, Texas, at the time of death at age 63.
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