Julius Schaefer

Today on Oldest Olympians we were are going a little further back than usual to dig up our Olympic mystery. Our subject of the day is Julius Schaefer, about whom little is known. While this is the case for many participants from the 1904 St. Louis Games, we did uncover some additional clues that make this a mystery worth sharing.

All we know about Schaefer for certain is that he competed in two events at the 1904 Olympics. In the 25 mile race, he was among the six starters (out of ten total) who failed to complete the event. He had much more luck in the 5 mile competition, where he was one of only four people to finish a race that had begun with nine contestants. Unfortunately for Schaefer, he placed fourth and thus missed an Olympic medal. At the time, he was a member of the South Side Cycling Club of St. Louis.

Contemporary reports demonstrate that Schaefer continued racing through at least 1908, but give no indication of when he began his career or any other biographical hints, other than the fact that he was still considered youthful at that time. It is not until September 6-7, 1934 that we could locate another clue. On that date, obituaries appear for a Julius Schaefer, aged either 53 or 54, who committed suicide by gunshot on the 6th in St. Louis. By occupation, he owned a local bicycle shop.

(The obituary of a Julius Schaefer from the September 6, 1934 edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Unfortunately, there are no other details that can help us connect this obituary to the Olympian, which is not surprising, as many events at the 1904 Games were considered to be of uncertain Olympic status and, in 1934, there would be no reason for an obituary to mention participation in that tournament. Aside from the bicycle store connection and his age, which would be appropriate for the Olympian, there is no strong evidence that this was the 1904 cyclist Julius Schaefer.

The mystery, however, takes one final odd twist. On July 17, 1902, a story was published about a man who attempted to commit suicide after an argument with his brother, Herman. Just as in 1934, it was noted that the love interest of the tobacco worker was “in a despondent mood” prior to his act of drinking poison. His name was Julius Schaefer.

(A note of the attempted suicide of Julius Schaefer in the July 17, 1902 edition of The St. Louis Republic)

We could not uncover a connection between the 1902 Schaefer and the 1934 Schaefer, let alone one to the Olympian, so we can only speculate if any are one and the same. We did locate Herman Schaefer’s obituary, which lists his family members and indicates that the 1902 Julius was still alive at that time. It omits, however, one important name – that of Julius’ wife – which is the only family member name present in the 1934 obituaries (Maria). Thus, we are left with our mystery: is the bike shop-owning Julius Schaefer who died in 1934 the Olympian? And, if so, did he struggle with depression for over three decades before it finally claimed his life? For now, this is an Olympic mystery on which we can only speculate.

(Herman Schaefer’s obituary from the March 20, 1931 edition of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat)

Daphne Robb-Hasenjäger

Today Oldest Olympians is presenting the story of another Olympic medalist about whom we could find little of their post-athletic life: South African sprinter Daphne Hasenjäger, born July 2, 1929, who would have recently turned 90 if still alive.

(Hasenjäger, pictured far left, in the Life Photo Collection)

Hasenjäger began her career in the aftermath of World War II as Daphne Robb. Her first major international appearance came at the 1948 London Olympics, where she was eliminated in the semifinals of the 100 metres and placed sixth in the 200 metres. In 1949 she ran the 100 yards in 10.7 seconds, then a world record, but it was not recognized due to assistance from the wind. Robb’s achievements became more notable in the 1950s, as she won a bronze medal in the 220 yards event at the 1950 British Empire Games and then, after marrying a fellow athlete and becoming Daphne Hasenjäger, earned a silver medal in the 100 metres at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.

After this, we have been unable to find much trace of her, let alone information on whether or not she is still alive. We know that a street in Windhoek, Namibia was named after her no later than 1997, but as this honor is not exclusive to deceased individuals, this fact does not tell us much. In this case, we have no language barrier, nor any real reason that we should not be able to find at least some information on her after her athletic career. The sheer death of material, we feel, is an Olympic Mystery of its own, one that we hope our readers will find relatively easy to solve.

Alf Horn

As we have no updates to share on the subject of last week’s blog, ski jumper Bob Lymburne, and with Canada Day being celebrated tomorrow, we thought that this week we would look into another Canadian Olympian whose mystery is much simpler: fencer Alf Horn.

(Horn, left, pictured in the March 22, 1940 edition of the Montreal Gazette)

Horn was born in Norway on January 6, 1913, but moved to Canada at a young age and, after dabbling in track and field, focused his athletic talents in fencing. He was quite capable in this regard, and won several Quebec provincial championships across the disciplines. His biggest moment in the sport came when he was selected to represent Canada at the 1948 London Olympics, where he took part in every event except the individual sabre, but never advanced beyond the second round. His sporting career wound down after that, but he remained active in coaching and administration and, as late as December 1967, was mentioned among “well-known Montreal sportsmen”:

(Advertisement from the December 9, 1967 edition of the Montreal Gazette)

With this mention being the last evidence we have of him being alive, the mystery is simply this: what happened to Alf Horn after the 1960s? Of course, as we have covered, there are many Olympians, even well-known ones, that have simply disappeared from the record later in life, so this question in and of itself would not make him more mysterious than thousands of other Olympians. We were, however, able to locate one perplexing clue that makes his case worth discussing.

The above obituary appeared in the August 31, 1978 edition of the Montreal Gazette, but unfortunately does not provide any evidence that the individual listed was the Olympian. It mentions relatives, but no children, and we were unable to track his named brother and sister-in-law to uncover more clues. Finally, one piece of information that it does give, that the deceased individual was Jewish, does not align well with the Olympian’s long-time affiliation with the YMCA, as the Montreal YMHA was also well-known for its sports programs and sent several basketball players to the 1948 Games.

We were able to locate the cemetery in which he was buried, the Baron de Hirsch Cemetery, but, unfortunately, his Find-A-Grave page offers no additional details beyond the obituary and does not include a picture of the grave. Still, there is nothing that disqualifies him from being the Olympian (the fencing program at the YMCA, for example, might have been better than the one at the YMHA, or the YMHA might have been too far away for him to travel routinely during his youth) and we could locate no other suitable obituaries. Thus, for now, it seems, Horn’s later life will remain an Olympic mystery.

Bob Lymburne, Part II

Today on Olympic Mysteries, we are revisiting an Olympian that we covered before, whose circumstances are truly deserving of the word “mystery”: Robert Samuel “Bob” Lymburne. We were, unfortunately, unable as of yet to his resolve his case, but we did uncover further information that we feel is worth sharing.

As we covered previously, Lymburne represented Canada in the ski jumping tournament at the 1932 Lake Placid Olympics. There, he placed 19th out of 34 starters in the normal hill. In the sporting world, however, he was more notable for his achievements outside of the Games. On March 13, 1932, he set a world record of 82 metres (269 feet) with a jump in Revelstoke, British Columbia. He lost his record in less than a year, but regained it in March 1933 with a jump of 87.5 metres (287 feet). Unfortunately, he suffered a severe head injury while skiing in 1935 and never competed again. According to the book Powder Pioneers:

“He is reported to have wandered off into the woods many years later and his body was never found.”

We do not know the origins of this story, as the earliest version we could locate was in Powder Pioneers, written in 2005. Thus, we do not even know when his disappearance is alleged to have occurred or in which woods he vanished.

In regards to the first issue, we now have at least a little more clarification. Some sources list him as having disappeared in the 1930s, but we were able to locate numerous references to him being alive well after that. The latest mention we could find comes from The Province, a newspaper from Vancouver, which published a picture of him on March 11, 1957, leaving no ambiguity to the fact that he was still alive at the time:

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/32659940/lymburne1957/

At the time, he was living in Trail, British Columbia, but online records for the province do not contain any documents relating to his death. What we did find, however, was his marriage registration from November 19, 1939, when he married Alice Luella Threatful:

http://search-collections.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/Image/Genealogy/3023df8d-d701-4cbe-8caf-89edc8cd4f74

Interestingly enough, his surname is listed on this document as “Lynburne”, a spelling that occurred occasionally in newspaper accounts about his career, despite “Lymburne” being far more common. We were also hopeful that the discovery of a wife might have led to new family details. Unfortunately, Alice died less than a year after their marriage, with a record that also lists her surname as “Lynburne”:

(Alice Luella Lynburne’s death record at the archives of the Royal BC Museum)

Other family information led to even more questions, as the death certificates of both of his parents are listed under “Lymbourne”. Adding to the confusion, two of his sisters, Mary and Sarah, have marriage registrations in the same records with the surname “Lymburne”. In fact, on the death certificate for Harry Prestwich (mistakenly listed as “Prestwick” on his own marriage certificate!), Mary’s husband, his wife’s maiden name is spelled “Linburn”. It was the name “Lymbourne”, however, that provided more definitive clues, as features on the Lymbourne Family were featured in The Golden Star on July 12 and 19, 1978. In the article, it mentions that the two boys, Frederick and Bob, and are deceased:

(Clipping from the July 19 article)

Frederick died December 20, 1970, with his death record listing Lymbourne, but there is no trace of Bob’s death in the archives. Thus, this is where the trail in public records seems to go cold. We now know that Bob died between 1957 and 1978, but we could not locate a record of this in any public documents. If he disappeared in the woods, as is claimed, then it is possible that he was never declared dead officially, or that such a declaration took place in a different province or during a time where the British Columbia records remain sealed. That said, the earliest iteration of the “walked off” story we have seen is still from the 2005 Powder Pioneers mention, so we cannot even verify that that story is true. Our next step, therefore, will be to attempt to contact the author of that book, as well as some of the descendants of the Lymbourne siblings, in the hopes that we can move closer to solving this mystery. In the meantime, however, we thought that you our readers might enjoy an update to the progress being made in this case.

More Bronze Medal Mysteries

Today we wanted to continue to keep our blog simple by maintaining our focus on individual athletes and concentrating today on an Olympian who would have recently turned 90 were he alive, but is otherwise a bronze medal mystery. During the course of our work, however, we noted that there was another bronze medal mystery that we missed when we undertook our original series on this topic, and thus today will be a double feature as we rectify our previous oversight.

(Prokopov pictured at Sport-Strana.ru)

Valentin Prokopov – Bronze medalist with the Soviet water polo team at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics

Valnetin Prokopov, born June 10, 1929, is probably best known as the player who struck Ervin Zádor in the famous “blood in the water” water polo match at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. With the Soviets having just invaded Hungary to quell an uprising, tensions were high during the game, which quickly turned physical. The match was called in favor of the Hungarians when, with his opponents already ahead 4-0, Prokopov attacked Zádor and opened a cut beneath his eye, causing him to bleed profusely. The Soviets eventually settled for bronze in the tournament, while the Hungarians went on to win gold.

With the Russian-language barrier, there was little else that we could find on Prokopov, although we know that he had taken part in the 1952 Helsinki Games as a member of the Soviet water polo team (which finished seventh) and was scheduled to compete in the 1,500 metres freestyle, although he did not start. He also won three national championships in water polo, in 1956, 1959, and 1964. We suspect that he is still alive, and that the main obstacle is the language but, unfortunately, we could not find anything to confirm our suspicions.

(Baumann on the podium, in the center of the photograph)

Hermann Baumann – Bronze medalist for Switzerland in lightweight, freestyle wrestling at the 1948 London Olympics

We know even less about Swiss wrestler Hermann Baumann, born January 23, 1921, which is probably why we accidentally overlooked him before. Baumann represented his country in the lightweight, freestyle event at the 1948 London Olympics, and earned the bronze medal by defeating Italian [Garibaldo Nizzola]() in a tie-breaking match. Unfortunately, there is much less information out there on Swiss Olympians than one might expect, and thus this is all we know about him. Unless and until someone can provide additional information, Baumann will remain a bronze medal mystery to us.

Morgan Plumb

Today Oldest Olympians is focusing another post on a single athlete. This time we are looking into Canadian wrestler Morgan Plumb, for whom we feel we are a hair’s breadth close to unlocking his entire life story, yet we cannot find the smoking gun.

(Plumb pictured in a January 16, 1950 feature in Vancouver’s “The Province”)

We know a few things for certain about the Olympian, much of which comes from a feature of Royal Canadian Air Force wrestlers published on January 16, 1950 in “The Province” from Vancouver, British Columbia. He was born in 1913, likely as George Morgan Plumb, and took up wrestling at the Toronto West End YMCA in the early 1930s. He was selected to represent Canada in wrestling at the 1938 British Empire Games, having travelled to the trials at his own expense, but was later dropped from the team due to a lack of funds. He joined the RCAF at the outbreak of World War II and continued competing in military tournaments.

(Plumb, third from the left, during his wartime service, from Canadian Colour)

At the end of the conflict, he was chosen as Canada’s freestyle lightweight wrestling representative to the 1948 London Olympics, where he was eliminated from contention in the third round. He then represented Canada at the 1950 British Empire Games, where he won a silver medal in the same event. Prior to 1950, he had earned five Ontario provincial titles and three Canadian national ones. The January article listed his hometown as Aylmer, Ontario and noted that he had been married for six months, although it neglected to mention the name of his spouse.

(The grave of “Morgan Plumb”, who lived from 1913-1971, from Find A Grave)

Ancestry.com lists a George Morgan Plumb born April 12, 1913 in York, Ontario, which would align with what we know about the Olympic Morgan Plumb. From the other end of his lifespan, Find A Grave has a picture of a family grave in Prospect Cemetery, Toronto, which includes a “Morgan Plumb” who was born in 1913 and died in 1971.

(Morgan Plumb’s obituary from the Globe and Mail, August 3, 1971)

We were then thankful that frequent contributor Connor Mah forwarded us a copy of the obituary for the Morgan Plumb on the gravestone. It noted that Plumb died on August 1 in Oakville and listed the names of his children, wife, and siblings. Unfortunately, there was nothing in the obituary that could tie him conclusively to the Olympian, or even the George Morgan Plumb who had been born in York. Unable to find contact information for any of his family members or descendants, it was here that the trail finally went cold. We find it very likely that all three Morgan Plumbs are the same individual, particularly as his name is not overly common, but until we can locate some evidence that confirms this fact, this Canadian wrestler will remain an Olympic mystery.

Farid Abou-Shadi

Today Oldest Olympians is resuming its focus on individual athletes. In this case, we are raising the mystery of Egyptian fencer, Farid Abou-Shadi, and how he might have been confused with another similarly-named fencer of his era.

(Farid Abou-Shadi, the Olympian)

This is what we know for certain. A man by the name of Ahmed Farid Abou-Shadi, born November 28, 1909, from Shibin El Kom, represented Egypt twice in sabre fencing at the Olympic Games, in 1948 and 1952, in both the individual and team tournaments. He was eliminated in the opening round of each event, except for the team sabre in 1952, where the squad survived to the quarterfinals. This individual also won three bronze medals at the World Championships (team sabre in 1949 and 1950, and team foil in 1951) and a silver medal in team sabre at the inaugural Mediterranean Games in 1951. He was a member of Cairo’s Cercle Royal d’Escrime and Haras Galalat Al-Malik (The King’s Bodyguards). We do not know what happened to the Olympian after this, although, given his date of birth, he is certainly deceased.

(M. Shafik Farid from the University of Texas Yearbook)

At the same time, however, there was another Egyptian fencer with a similar name active in sabre fencing. We first heard about him in the July 19, 1948 edition of the Egyptian Gazette, in an article titled “Egyptian Wins Sabre Tourney in Texas”:

“Shafik Farid of Cairo, won the first annual W.A. Franks Memorial Sabre tournament in Texas. Farid attends the University of Texas but his home is in Cairo where he is a member of the Royal Fencing Academy. He scored four wins and one loss.”

We then scanned through some old newspapers and discovered that his fencing exploits were covered eclectically in Texas newspapers. We learned that he founded a fencing club at the University shortly after his victory, that he had been fencing for approximately ten years as of 1947, that he was a member of the national Egyptian fencing team, that he was a graduate of Cairo University, and that his full name included an “M.” among the initials.

(Clipping from the August 14, 1947 Austin American, page 10)

It should be noted at this point that, despite the differences in name, “M. Shafik Farid” and “Farid Abou-Shadi” could indeed be the same individual. “Abou-Shadi” is an honorific, which, in Arabic, simply means “father of Shadi”, so it is a reference to his status as a parent. Since Arabic names do not follow strictly the formula of “given name, family name”, it would be entirely possible that “M. Shafik Farid” was known as “Farid, the Father of Shadi” once he had a son, but that in America he was known by his “legal” name. Many Egyptians also have multiple parts to their name, so the fact that Farid Abou-Shadi included the name “Ahmed” while Shafik Farid did not is not necessarily an indicator that they are different people.

Our next stop was contacting expert fencing historian and two-time Olympian George Masin with our findings to see if we could tease out any smoking guns that would connect these two individuals. He found information that a Mohamed Shafik Farid, born in Alexandria on November 30, 1920, was residing in Houston when he applied for US Citizenship in 1957 and changed his name to Steven Shafik Farid. Steven Farid was active in fencing in both Kansas and Texas during the 1960s, and had married Dorothy Rawls in 1953. He also provided a picture of Farid, who was a chemical engineering major, from the 1949 University of Texas Yearbook.

(Picture from Find-A-Grave)

Unfortunately, despite numerous references to his fencing career, neither of us were able to find any mention of his Olympic participation, with the closest clue being the note above that mentioned his membership in the Egyptian national team. His wife Dorothy died April 2, 1978 in Texas, but we were unable to find a record of Shafik’s death. A Shafik B. Farid born November 20, 1929 died in Florida on November 8, 2010, but although this person had lived in Texas, the date of birth makes it unlikely that this was the fencer, as having 10 years of experience in 1947 would have required him to take up fencing at the age of eight. “Steve Fared”, born November 30, 1920, was apparently living in Houston as of 2008, although these public records have noted deceased individuals incorrectly as living in the past.

Of course, if the Olympian and the Texas fencer were one and the same, then obviously there would be an error somewhere in the year of birth, as both were born in November on different dates and allegedly 10 years apart. Date of birth errors are common, so it is not outside the realm of possibility, but it is also worth noting that public records only acknowledge one son, Robert, and of course no wife other than Dorothy. So unless “Abou-Shadi” was an honorific for a non-biological son, or he left his previous family back in Egypt, it seems ultimately that all of this is just a confusing coincidence. Regardless, it demonstrates just how complicated matters can get when trying to decipher Olympic mysteries.

More Olympic Missing Links

Today on Oldest Olympians we are taking a break from focusing on individual athletes in order to bring back a past feature for a day. Since we concluded our Olympic Missing Links series several months ago, we have come across a handful of new candidates and decided that it was an appropriate time to review them. Thus, today we are once again looking at cases for whom we believed to have identified their date of death but, for whatever reason, we were unable to connect the information, such as obituary or public record, conclusively to the athlete. As always, we present them here not only in the hopes of solving some of these cases, but to continue our commitment to transparency in our research.

01AH8CER; Bozena Moserova

(Picture from Diomedia)

Božena Moserová – Member of Czechoslovakia’s alpine skiing team at the 1948 St. Moritz Olympics

The international skiing career of Božena Moserová, born June 30, 1926, was relatively limited, with her most significant appearance coming at the 1948 St. Moritz Olympics. There, she finished 18th in the combined, 19th in the slalom, and 25th in the downhill. She later became an obstetrician and took the married name Žemličková. The Czech-language Wikipedia lists her as dying in either 2016 or 2017, presumably at the age of 90, but although we were able to confirm that she was still alive in the 2000s, we have not been able to verify when (or even if) she died.

 

Kazuhiko Sugawara – Member of Japan’s speed skating delegation to the 1952 Oslo Olympics

Kazuhiko Sugawara, born May 1, 1927, was one of Japan’s top speed skaters in the immediate aftermath of World War II and won numerous national titles in the late 1940s. The peak of his career came in 1952, when he finished 15th and 7th in the 5,000 and 10,000 metres events respectively at the Oslo Olympics. By career he was an engineer at a paper factory, and the Japanese Wikipedia lists him as dying on October 27, 1962 at the age of only 35, due to kidney disease. We have thus far been unable, however, to confirm this information in other sources.

(The Brazilian team attacking the referee from Water Polo Legends)

Pedro Theberge – Member of Brazil’s water polo squad at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics

As is often the case with our Olympic missing links, we know very little about Pedro Theberge, born January 1911, especially as he was a member of a team sport rather than an individual athlete. We know nothing of his life other than that he was a member of Brazil’s water polo squad at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, which placed fifth after being suspended for attacking a referee. We were able to find a death record for a Pedro Theberge who died June 24, 1972 in Rio de Janeiro at the age of 63. This would make him born c. 1909 rather than 1911, and thus we cannot conclude for certain that this is the Olympian, despite the fact that his name is not particularly common in Brazil.

 

Eulogio Quiroz – Member of Peru’s boxing delegation to the 1936 Berlin Olympics

To round out our entry today, we have a particularly obscure Olympic contributor: Eulogio Quiroz, born March 11, 1914. Quiroz was slated to represent Peru in boxing’s light-heavyweight division at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, but did not ultimately take part in the competition. His first bout would have been against upcoming gold medalist Roger Michelot of France, however, and thus it seems unlikely that he would have advanced. We do not know anything else about his boxing career or later life, but we did find the record of a Eulogio Quiroz Andrade born March 11, 1913 in Huacho. This individual died October 7, 1976 in Lima, but without further corroborating details on his life, we cannot verify that the person in the record and the Olympian are one and the same, despite how likely it seems.

 

That is it for today, but we hope that you will come back next week, when we will have even more Olympic mysteries to share with you all!

Motoo Tatsuhara

Today on Oldest Olympians, we are continuing our series of posts that are looking at a single athlete. In this case, our subject is Japanese footballer Motoo Tatsuhara, born January 14, 1913. Like Korean, Japanese is not a language in which we are able to work, but it appears that even if we were fluent, the mystery would remain.

(The 1936 Japanese football team from the Japanese Football Hall of Fame)

Tatsuhara played football at Waseda University, which was well-known at the time for its sporting culture. He made his début for the national team at the 1934 Far Eastern Championship Games and followed this up with his participation at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. There, Japan defeated Sweden 3-2 in round one, but was then bested 8-0 by the upcoming gold medalist squad from Italy. This was the end of Tatsuhara’s international career, but he continued playing through at least 1942.

After that is where the mystery begins, as there seems to be no further information on his life after World War II. In September 2014, a user added a date of death of November 1984 to Tatsuhara’s Japanese Wikipedia page:

https://ja.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=%E7%AB%8B%E5%8E%9F%E5%85%83%E5%A4%AB&diff=next&oldid=47948983

The source, however, was not explicitly stated, although the talk page suggested it might have come from a book. This, however, was contested as being related possibly to a different individual, and the information on the Japanese Wikipedia was removed in April 2016. We here at Oldest Olympians have been unable to confirm this information elsewhere and thus we are taking it to our blog. We know that Tatsuhara is deceased, but the question is whether or not he is the individual who died in November 1984. If not, then when did he die? Like many other Olympians we have profiled, it seems that he has been unfortunately lost to history… and not just in the English language either.

Kim Nam-gu

This week on our Oldest Olympians blog, we are going to be taking a look at our third sport shooter in a row: South Korea’s Kim Nam-gu, born October 8, 1923. We here at Oldest Olympians can work with many languages, but unfortunately Korean is not one of them. Nonetheless, we were able to do enough to produce an Olympic mystery for today.

(Kim, as pictured in the article described below)

Kim’s participation at the Games was limited to one event, the trap competition in Munich in 1972, where he placed 41st in a field of 57 competitors. He had more luck at the 1974 Asian Games, however, where he took home a bronze medal from the team trap shooting tournament. He also competed at the 1966 World Championships and, by career, was a successful businessman.

Our mystery here is simple, and likely related to our inability to work effectively within the Korean language. We located an article from 2007 about Kim, then aged 84, which highlighted his status as the oldest active shooter in the South Korean federation.

http://www.hani.co.kr/arti/PRINT/217268.html

We have been unable, however, to find any updates after this date, whether about his continued participation or his death, likely because his name is not an uncommon one in his country. A “last update” from 2007 is just outside of the boundaries where we would list someone in our charts as living, but usually such cases resolve themselves one way or another within a decade. Thus we are sharing this information with the internet in the hopes that someone may be able to locate additional information on what happened to him, and help us solve another one of our Olympic mysteries.

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