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Only Swimmer in American Indian Hall of Fame

July 21, 1987

NEW HOPE, Minn. (AP) _ Robert Gawboy Jr., the only swimmer in the American Indian Hall of Fame, has died 18 years after being diagnosed as having multiple sclerosis. He was 55.

Gawboy, a former computer programmer for the Hennepin County Public Works Department, died July 15 at the North Ridge Care Center in New Hope.

On Saturday, Gawboy’s family spread his ashes over Indian land in Voyageurs National Park.

Gawboy, who was born on the Vermilion Lake Indian Reservation to a Finnish mother and Chippewa father, set a world record of 2 minutes, 38 seconds in the 220-yard breaststroke at the National AAU Indoor Swimming Championships in 1955.

Gawboy was a standout swimmer in high school and at Purdue University.

″I knew nothing about swimming when I went out for the Ely (High School) team as a ninth-grader,″ Gawboy said in a 1955 interview. He chose swimming, he said, because the team practiced at noon. Other sports had after-school practices Gawboy couldn’t make; he had to catch a bus for a 10-mile ride home.

In 1980, he was enshrined in the American Indian Hall of Fame in Lawrence, Kan. The hall has about 60 members.

Survivors include two sons and two daughters.

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