Hartford, Conn. – Trinity College paid tribute to Norman Graf, former head coach of both Trinity's men's and women's rowing teams, with a memorial service at the Trinity Chapel in late November. Graf, who passed away at the age of 92 near his home in Waterford in September, is universally recognized as the father of modern Trinity rowing and the annual race between the varsity crews from Trinity, Wesleyan, and Connecticut College is named in his memory as the Graf Cup.
"The Memorial Service for Norm was exceptional," said Trinity Head Men's Rowing Coach Kevin MacDermott. "There was standing-room only in the chapel, with hundreds of alums, friends, student-athletes and family packed in to celebrate Norm's momentous life and legacy. Through song, eulogy, scripture, and sermon, the enormity of Norm's personal and professional life was honored with grace and dignity. It was an honor to organize and to be a part of the festivities. Many thanks to Chaplin Read for her invaluable assistance in facilitating the proceedings. Also, I wish to express special gratitude from the entire Trinity community to the Romanik family for their unwavering affection and support for Norm throughout his life and beyond."
read the eulogy by Andy Anderson '75
Graf began rowing in 1940 and eventually became captain of the undefeated Rutgers University freshmen team. In the late '50s Norm began coaching at Yale and in 1967 he became the head rowing coach and intramural director at Trinity College. He coach the Trinity men from 1968 to 1992 and the Trinity women from 1989 to 1991. The Bantam varsity crews were 182-78-1 in men's dual racing and 34-9 in women's dual racing under his guidance.
"As a leader, educator, mentor, and friend, Norm was peerless," added MacDermott. "With humility, respect and sadness, we honor the sheer enormity of Norm's life, his service to the country during World War II, his influence on the rowing programs and the entire Trinity College community, and the impact on the thousands of lives he touched through seven decades as an educator and coach."
Included among the highlights for Trinity men's rowing under Graf are several Callow Cup, American Henley, and Kerr championships, two freshman and one lightweight national title, and runner-up finishes at the Dad Vail Regatta in both 1976 and 1981. While at Trinity, he took seven crews to the Henley Royal Regatta, winning the Ladies' Plate in 1976 and lowering the course record by six seconds. Graf also led David Brown '73 and Ric Ricci '73, rowing in the varsity pair, to consecutive Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) National Championship triumphs. Graf coached at the Craftsbury Sculling Center in Craftsbury, Vermont for over 18 years and served as its director for more than ten of those.