Oslo, Norway – Perhaps it was a good thing Grete wasn’t still with us, because last night in Bislett Stadium where the great Norwegian champion first came to national then international prominence, she was eulogized to over 1500 people by the likes of the Norwegian Prime Minister, the mayor of Oslo, the head of the Norwegian Athletics Federation, fellow champions, and the president of the New York Road Runners. Knowing Grete, the private person who shunned personal recognition, the public display of it all would have been pure torture.
Her husband Jack joked to me earlier that “Grete will come back and haunt me” if he made the commemoration too elaborate. But both Grete and Jack came to the realization long ago that she wasn’t just a private citizen of Norway alone. The one-time school teacher from Oslo had long since become a citizen of the world, and the world needed to say good-bye and thank you.