Friends, family, teachers and teammates gathered at Sage Chapel yesterday afternoon to mourn the loss of Graham Baker Morin ’04.
A City and Regional Planning student in the Architecture college and one of Cornell’s prominent wrestling recruits, Graham died unexpectedly on Saturday after suffering cardiac arrest, which medical authorities believe was induced by Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). Graham had shown no previous symptoms of the rare heart condition, according to coach Rob Koll.
“Although he spent less than a semester with us, he will remain forever a Cornellian,” said Susan H. Murphy ’73, vice president of Student and Academic Services. Addressing a filled chapel, Murphy spoke of Graham’s “drive, commitment, dedication and zest” to wrestling and scholarship. She added that Cornell would formally honor the young athlete’s memory with the naming of a room in Cornell’s new wrestling facility, being built through the gift of an anonymous donor.
A Washington state champion for three consecutive years and a two time all-American in high school, Graham showed extraordinary promise even for a recruit, said Koll. At the college level Graham proved his skill and talent early on, in a victory over a top-ranked contender this semester.
Koll spoke about introducing Morin, a fan of Seattle grunge, to “the classics: Bee Gees and Abba” during drill sessions. “Many people die young,” he added, recalling a Billy Joel song. “You just notice it a lot more when the good die.”
Tom Shifflet, assistant wrestling coach, described Graham as “a true winner” and a model he will always keep in mind when looking for future champions.
“I’m going to miss that knock on my door at eleven o’clock every night to play darts,” said friend and teammate Andy Breiner ’04. “The only thing Graham wasn’t good at … was hitting a dart board. I still have a thousand holes on my door,” he joked.
Drawing attention to Graham’s modesty and poise, roommate Tyler Baier ’04 recalled that “for everything he accomplished as a high school wrestler … Graham never once mentioned his accomplishments, never bragged, and never put anyone down to bring himself up.”
“As you encounter challenges,” he told friends and fellow teammates, “take them up a little less for yourself and a little more for Graham.”
Matt Greenbaum ’03, another teammate, remembered Graham’s refreshing sense of humor. “He was the happiest, most agreeable person, even in a place where stress and pressure overwhelm people’s lives.”
William Goldsmith, Graham’s adviser and teacher, praised Graham’s directness and integrity in the academic setting. He also gave the chapel a sense of the young man’s own voice by reading a selection from a travel essay Graham wrote in his college application. Describing the mixed success of helping high school teammates order American food from a French menu, Graham’s writing gave insight into a student Goldsmith said “none of us knew well enough … There was much to know, he had much to share … none of us had enough time.”
The death of a young person always “raises more questions than we have answers,” said Reverend Charles Tompkins, asking friends and family to look to Scripture for comfort, perspective, and hope.
Robert L. Johnson, director of Cornell United Religious Work, worked closely with the Morin family to help organize the service. He commented on the importance of remembering as a means of finding closure and sharing loss.
Graham was survived by parents Dan and Laurie, and sisters Lily and Brianna.
Archived article by Sana Krasikov