South Dakota’s Other Famous Thune
Young people certainly know the name. But elderly folks do, too.
Thune. It's a famous name.
I mean, that name was on the lips and in the papers everywhere in the state of South Dakota and beyond. If you were at your local cafe, maybe your favorite watering hole, perhaps standing in line at the local grocery store, folks were talking about Thune. How that small town Murdo boy Thune had made a name for himself, first in South Dakota, and then took that name beyond the borders of the Mt. Rushmore State.
You might be in Lemmon or Brookings, you could be at home in Aberdeen or Sioux Falls or Rapid City. Heck, you might be up in the metropolis called the Twin Cities. In didn't matter, the name was known...and I mean known.
Oh, and one other thing: It was 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941.
Yeah, it was, as they say, 'Back in the day'. This Thune, you see, has a first name of Harold and he's a South Dakota Sports Hall of Famer.
From those humble and proud beginnings in Murdo, where he led his High School team to the state B basketball finals and was named captain of the all-tournament team, to the University of Minnesota where he started as a guard for the Golden Gophers. In fact as a Junior he was voted the teams Most Valuable Player.
Not bad for the Murdo lad that stood all of five feet eleven inches. In a January, 1941 Argus Leader story they said:
Despite his small stature he has proved effective defensively in the rough-and-tough Big Ten basketball style.
After a distinguished career in the United States Navy, this Thune, the famous one named Harold, came back home. He had a long career teaching and coaching in his small South Dakota hometown. Among his honors was being named one of the 10 outstanding athletes in western South Dakota from the past 50 years in 1964.
On a personal note, I was a fresh faced kid of 18 when I first started working at KWYR Radio in Winner, South Dakota. I wanted to be a sports play-by-play guy and with the help of a seasoned sports veteran at the time, Chuck Hogue, I got my start. One of the highlights of our high school play-by-play broadcasts was a trip from Winner up to Murdo. Back in those days the high school there hosted the 'Murdo Invitational Basketball Tournament', a two day (or was it three? It's been a while) event with about 8 high schools playing games through the afternoon and evening.
Murdo, of course, was one of those teams, being the host. And I remember they had a really doggone good player back then, a kind of tall drink-of-water, seemed to be a bit on the thin side, if I remember right. It was about 1977, maybe '78, something like that.
And I'll be doggoned, his name was Thune too! Wonder whatever happened to him?
The South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame Contributed To This Article