Henry Tucker Graham

H-SC President, 1909-1917

Henry Tucker Graham As Dr. McAllister's successor at the Farmville Presbyterian Church, Henry Tucker Graham 1886 had witnessed the unnerving turmoil of the last two years of the McAllister administration. After his classmate, Trustee McFaden, declined to serve, Graham, in a gamely sacrificial display of hope over experience, accepted the presidency. Always a man of wry humor, he recorded this "cheerful introduction into office": a Trustee said to him, "You have my best wishes, Sir, but I am very sorry for you, very sorry indeed." Graham had been the winning pitcher in Hampden-Sydney's first intercollegiate baseball game, and was a terror on the tennis court. While he was pastor in Farmville and all during his presidency, he endeared himself to the students by regular and enthusiastic attendance at athletic events, and led the hat-throwing after victories. The focus of his energy was the welfare of "his boys"; they rewarded him with a remarkable turnaround from a decade of mean spirit and poor behavior. Dr. Graham's most visible monument is the South wing of Graham Hall - named for him after his departure - which he built in 1916 as the College's first real gymnasium, chiefly to accommodate the astoundingly popular basketball, played the previous twenty-five years in makeshift quarters. The College took over from student and alumni boosters the financing of athletics; as far as money permitted, every College building got long-deferred maintenance, dramatic improvements in plumbing and heating, and full electrical service. But in July 1917, disheartened by the miserable failure of the churches in the Synod of Virginia to respond in two campaigns, Dr. Graham, seeing no happy future for the College in the increasingly costly and competitive educational world, abruptly resigned. "His boys" presented him an out-sized, championship-style loving cup; in 1926 the College gave him a D.D. He died in 1951.