Jim Lathrop crosses the finish line of the Charlotte Marathon in November 2016. It was his final marathon of a 50-state challenge.
Name: Jim Lathrop
Year of Scecina graduation: 1963
Degrees: B.S., accounting, Indiana Business College; MBA, Indiana University
Past Positions: Certified Public Accountant, Controller
Current Position: Retired, marathon runner
By Jim Lathrop '63
I have received many blessings in my life. I’ve had a successful career, loving family and friends, and a running hobby that has taken me to marathons in all 50 states.
I was born into a family of seven boys, six of whom attended Scecina Memorial High School. Our parents instilled in us a work ethic that helped us realize our potential. All of us attended Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School in Indianapolis, which helped us solidify our Catholic faith.
My four years at Scecina were awkward years, a time of life’s changes and a time for learning about myself. I recall getting cut from the basketball program as a freshman (I really wasn’t that good). After picking myself up, I sought out other opportunities and went on to play baseball and golf.
Scecina taught me to look within myself, which enabled me to determine the direction I wanted to take in life. Scecina also provided me with the skill set necessary to be successful and helped me focus on how I was to reach my goals.
My favorite subjects were math, Latin and bookkeeping and my favorite teachers were Sister M. Janita, Sister Aurelia Mary and Rev. Joseph Reidman. Sister Janita made learning math fun. Rev. Reidman taught freshman algebra. Every time I see him I remind him that I did well in life despite his teaching ability. Of course, he always laughs. Sister Aurelia Mary taught bookkeeping and other commercial subjects and introduced me to an area that led to my calling in life: I wanted to be a Certified Public Accountant.
At Scecina, I was able to retain old friends, including Sam Jenkins (my best friend still today) and was introduced to many new friends, one of whom became the first love of my life – Patty Clifford. Patty and I double-dated to our Senior Ball, she in the back seat and I in the front. Only after graduation did we become close friends and in 1968 became husband and wife. We had three wonderful children, Jennifer, Julie and Christina. I worked at one of the Big 8 Accounting firms and later as a controller at several businesses while Patty taught at Catholic grade schools in Indianapolis.
In 1999, at age 54, I took up running. It allowed me to continue to feed my competitive spirit and seemed like a good fit. I completed the Indianapolis Mini Marathon and fell in love with the sport. In 2004, a friend introduced me to the thought of completing a marathon. After giving this crazy idea some more thought, I asked myself – why not? I ran my first marathon in 2004. Being a logical CPA, I developed the perfect plan to complete the race on my terms. I was successful and felt good at the finish line. I was hooked.
In April 2007, accompanied by my wife, daughters and their spouses, I completed the Boston Marathon, one of the highlights of my running journey.
Unfortunately, a few months later, after a long journey with leukemia and after almost 40 years of marriage, Patty passed away. I was blessed to have a wonderful life with one of the most loved persons I have ever known. The loss was the most devastating time in my life and yet I was blessed. I was fortunate enough to have running as an outlet to weather my grief. I was unsure as to what to do next.
I remembered the scene from “The Shawshank Redemption” in which Morgan Freeman etched a phrase in the wooden beam of his hotel room, “Get busy living or get busy dying.” Running gave me an outlet to get busy with living.
Soon, after Patty’s death, I was introduced to Team In Training” or TNT, which recruits individuals to train for athletic events while raising funds for leukemia and lymphoma research. Because my good friend Sam Jenkins lost his wife to lymphoma just four days after my wife died from leukemia, it seemed only natural to raise funds and train for a marathon – in this case, a marathon in Alaska. We became the top fund raisers in the country for the Alaska marathon.
For the next two years, I continued to train hard and run marathons, partially to relieve my grief. I also became reacquainted with a high school friend, Bernadette Dufour ’64. Bernadette owned and operated a restaurant, Dufours in Irvington, and also had recently lost a spouse. In 2010, after many mutual grieving sessions and wonderful dinners together, we decided to get married. Bernadette was bitten by the racing bug and has completed half marathons in 33 states. She has a goal to complete half marathons in all 50 states.
As of November 2016, I have completed a marathon in all 50 states, having completed my 50th in Charlotte, N.C. I crossed the finish line with my family and my best friend and his wife. What a thrill. Bernadette and I have crisscrossed the United States, from Maine to California and Washington to Florida and all points in between. We have been blessed, after both losing spouses, to share a life together and enjoy the thrill of seeing the country while feeding our competitive spirits.
My favorite race was the Mississippi Blues Marathon in Jackson. It wasn’t the race itself that was so good but the post-race party. We enjoyed great weather, live blues music, pizza and beer. What a great way to finish a marathon.
I will continue to run races with Bernadette and with my seven grandchildren, at least as long as I am able. I thank God for my continued health, my wonderful family and my friends. I thank Scecina for providing me the opportunity to have a good life.
I have been truly blessed.
Posted on Wed, January 4, 2017
by Beth Murphy