Former U.S. Figure Skating President Dr. Hugh C. Graham Jr. Passes Away at 90

Dr. Hugh C. Graham, Jr., the 22nd president of U.S. Figure Skating (1986–89), passed away on May 30, 2024. He was 90 years old.

Dr. Hugh C. Graham, Jr., the 22nd president of U.S. Figure Skating (1986–89), passed away on May 30, 2024. He was 90 years old.

An enduring legacy of his activist presidency was his creation of the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1989. The first inductions and celebratory reception took place at the 1992 U.S. Championships in Orlando, Florida, and remain a highlight at nationals each year. U.S. members of the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame were added to the new U.S. Hall of Fame, listing their original date of induction.

Dr. Graham was a competitive skater in his youth, representing the Tulsa FSC and later the SC of Boston. A Harvard College graduate, with an MD from the University of Chicago, he completed his pediatric training at the University of Oklahoma Children’s Hospital. For many years he served as a clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma, Tulsa.  And, quite naturally, he was an avid Oklahoma football fan and longtime season-ticket holder.

Dr. Graham began skating at age 7, one year after his sister, Margaret Anne, became captivated by the sport. He went on to become Midwestern junior and senior champion, U.S. novice champion as well as a bronze medalist in championship men and a two-time silver medalist in championship pairs (with Margaret Anne).

Dr. Graham and his sister placed fifth in World pairs, (his sister also placed seventh in the World ladies event), third in North American pairs and 10th in the men’s championship event at Worlds. His coaches included Gus Lussi, Maribel Vinson Owen and Cliff Thael; his summer training was in Lake Placid, New York; the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Lynn, Massachusetts.

He served 23 years on the U.S. Figure Skating Board of Directors in a variety of capacities, including four terms as vice president, and was the first vice chair of the Sports Medicine Committee. During his presidency, he started Governing Council seminars to educate delegates on their role in governance of the sport.

Dr. Graham was a World judge and referee, judging two Olympics and several World Championships and was team leader (with Franklin Nelson) at the World Championships in 1974 and the Innsbruck Olympics in 1976 and team leader (with Paul George) at the 1975 Worlds at the Broadmoor. He was also involved locally with the Tulsa FSC as a board member, officer and was chair of the 1970 U.S. Championships in Tulsa.

Other significant accomplishments during his presidency include the elimination of school figures from U.S. senior and junior competition to prepare skaters for the upcoming changes at the ISU level, and the standardization of credentials, procedures and schedules at the U.S. Championships.

Noteworthy were the president’s receptions and gatherings at the U.S. Championships, Worlds in Paris, Cincinnati and Budapest and the Calgary Olympics. These events, as well as more than 12 U.S. Hall of Fame receptions at the U.S. Championships, were all planned and organized by the president’s spouse, Jeannie M. Graham, who handled them with style and flair.

Dr Graham’s skating journey was shared with an extended family of officials with whom he forged a special and enduring bond. Hugh Graham, Franklin Nelson, Chuck Foster and Paul George were all national champions, all graduates of Harvard College, and all played key roles in U.S. Figure Skating governance and leadership over the course of many years. 

Dr. Graham’s parents became involved as high-test judges and local test chairs and his two daughters have both been involved in U.S. Figure Skating as competitive skaters and now national singles and pairs judges. Peggy Graham is a World judge and referee (judging the 2022 Olympics) and Dana Graham is a World technical specialist (2022 World Junior Championships). Dana was also U.S. Junior pairs champion with Paul Wylie, and Peggy and her dad have both served as chief referee of the U.S. Championships. Hugh's oldest child and namesake, Hugh III, inherited his smarts, good nature and quick wit. While not an international official, Hugh III was a skater as a child and capped off his skating career by driving the Zamboni for a summer in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Dr. Graham was an honorary member of U.S. Figure Skating, an honorary member of the U.S. Figure Skating Board of Directors and was inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2004.