In Memory Of

Tom Graham

Tom Graham, Glen Tay Block Race Director, passed away on December 20th, 2013, at the age of 74.

After graduating from Queens University, Kingston, Tom came to Perth as an educator where his career spanned thirty-four years with the UCDSB as a teacher, coach, guidance counselor, vice-principal, and coordinator of enrichment programs.

In conjunction with his professional roles, the pursuit of personal physical fitness was important to him. In various stages of his life, he enjoyed gymnastics, football, tennis, golf, swimming, skiing, weight lifting and cycling, but his passion was running, which he did both competitively and recreationally. His life long love of this form of exercise influenced many of his volunteer hours during his years in Perth.

Tom Graham

Upon his arrival at PDCI in the early 1960’s, he, along with Dick Salt and other volunteer coaches, enthusiastically revitalized the Track and Field scene to the extent that, in a span of 13 years, the Eastern Ontario Secondary School Team Championship trophy came 11 times to PDCI. During the same time span, the ‘entries’ list, for the annual spring Cross Town Race, grew substantially, and for some years the race became a Lanark County competition. In the fall season, Tom’s coaching energies turned to Cross Country running where, once again, PDCI teams benefitted from his expertise by ‘clocking’ winning times. In recognition of Tom’s contribution to this ‘off-track’ competitive running, a trophy in his name is presented annually to the winning Lanark County Cross Country team. Through coaching, Tom enabled numerous individuals to compete locally, provincially, nationally, and even internationally.

Tom Graham

His support of student athletes crossed geographical boundaries. In the late 1980’s, a girls’ basketball team out of Smiths Falls needed a manager. Tom filled the void and went beyond. Funds were scarce. He organized a lottery and became licensed to drive the Smiths Falls Wildcats to tournaments in Ontario, Quebec, and New York State.

These achievements were substantial, but Tom’s interest in sport was not limited to student athletes. In 1967, as a one-time salute to Canada’s Centennial, he and several others, notably Bill and Jack Wilson, Peter Code, and Rusty White revived a race from the early 1900’s. Their modern edition of The Glen Tay Block Race welcomed runners of all ages. This one-year commemoration became an annual event.

Tom Graham
Thirty years down the road, in 1996, the National Capital Runners’ Association honored Tom with a plaque in recognition of his commitment to the race. Although appreciative of this accolade, he was just getting started and retiring from The Glen Tay Block Race was the farthest thing from his mind.  (Click here to see larger version of image below)Tom Graham
Instead, he enlisted the support of five volunteers and formed The Glen Tay Block Race Committee. Seventeen years later, in 2013, Tom was still actively involved. In fact, he could be seen at race time, starting pistol in hand, making sure volunteers, competitors, and spectators were all in place.

Tom Graham
He was honoured to be the recipient of awards that recognized and celebrated his coaching and his volunteerism. In 1986, he received an Ontario Volunteer Service award. In 1988, he proudly accepted one of
the Canadian Olympic Celebration medals.Tom Graham
In 1978 and 1996, the Perth Legion presented Appreciation Certificates to him for upholding its traditions. Most recently, in 2002, he accepted Perth’s Sportsperson of the Year award.

Above all, Tom will be remembered for his willingness to assist those who were serious about sport, the arts and education. He did everything to enable individuals to follow their dreams and reach their potential.

A bursary entitled, The Tom Graham ‘Commitment to Excellence’ will be established at PDCI, to annually award a student who best exemplifies that quality. For more information, please visit the link below.

2007 GTBR Race
2007 - 200th Anniversary of historic Glen Tay Block Race.
Tom Graham holds the popular race pennant and the starter's pistol at the start/finish line.
Written by: Beth Graham and Allison Graham, in association with Terry O'Hearn.

Joe DuVall, now Assistant to the General Manager at National Capital Marathon Inc., and Event Operations Manager at Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend, wrote the article below for The Perth Courier about the 1997 race. See information on the Tom Graham Memorial Bursary for Perth & District Collegiate Institute by clicking on the button below.
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