Richard Harris Graham Jr.
1946 - 2020
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Richard Harris Graham, Jr.

Glendale - Richard Harris Graham, Jr. (Rick) was born in Elkin, NC on Sept. 3, 1946, and died in Glendale, WI on May 25, 2020, from complications of a long-standing illness. He was 73.

After living in Germany during his father's military service, his parents, Dr. Richard Harris Graham and Jane Ellen Graham (nee Sherman) brought their family back to Lenoir, NC where he grew up at the foot of Hibriten Mountain.

He studied architecture for two years at NC State's School of Design, and then attended the NC School for the Performing Arts, where he earned a BFA in 1971 and taught for two years. He came to Milw. to design for the Milw. Repertory Theatre in 1973.

Richard began teaching at the Dept. of Theatre at UWM as a lecturer in 1978 and continued as an Assistant Professor in 1979 and as an Associate Professor until his retirement in 2016. He was a founding member of Sandford Robbins' Professional Theatre Training Program, developing and implementing the Technical Training curriculum for the area he headed for several years. He passionately loved teaching, "professing", as he would say.

R.H. Graham's professional career as a designer stretched across 38 Theatre, Dance and Opera Companies in Milw., including the Milw. Ballet Company (36 productions), Milw. Chamber Theater, Next Act Theater, Renaissance Theatreworks, Theatre Gigante, Milw. Repertory Theater Company, Florentine Opera Company, and Theatre X. He was Assistant/Resident Scenic and Lighting Designer for the Milw. Repertory Theatre for five years, the Milw. Ballet Company for four years and Theatre X for 14 years. Some of Richard's highlights include selection for exhibit in the Milw. Art Museum show "Contemporary American Scene Designers", 1987; designed the 1888-1988 Centennial Celebration at the Milw. Art Museum "Fredrick Layton and His World'; received Full Company Membership in Theatre X in 2001; was featured in the national PBS broadcast of Michael Pink's "Peter Pan" design process in 2014; and received a Lifetime Achievement award from Marquis Who's Who-

Richard was an ingenious problem-solver who loved the challenges of touring. His international design credits include productions in Germany, Australia, China, Japan, Slovenia,Mexico, Canada and France. He received professional honors for his design for Theatre X's production of "Poor Folks Pleasure" at Suzuki's International Toga Festival, Togamura Japan, 1990, and he designed the PTTP's production of "Good Person of Szechwan", directed by Uwe Haus, at the Bremen Theatre Festival, 1987.

He was a tireless supporter of environmental, equality, peace and justice causes. At UWM, he was appointed to the Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Human Rights, and the Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Minorities and Disadvantaged. He received the Frompkin Memorial Lecture Award for Social Justice, for his work on the Theatre X production of "The Line" in 1996.

He is survived by his wife, Melanie; sons, Aleksandr and Dylan; brother, Stephen; and sister, Karen.

Rick happily anticipated the 50th Anniversary Season of the Milw. Ballet Company's performance of "Peter Pan"-he had started designing for MBC 43 years ago. His only regret in life was that Bill Stevens' family ate his pet duck while he was in Germany.

His soul was most complete in his beloved North Carolina mountains.

A gift in his memory may be made to Doctors Without Borders, The Milw. Ballet Company, or any Arts group of your choosing.


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Published in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel from Jun. 19 to Jun. 28, 2020.
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1 entry
June 29, 2020
I was very fortunate to have worked with Rick on several occasions over the years. And, very happy to have had him as a friend. My prayers and condolences are with the family.
Michael Griebl
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