Public hearing on naming the SO tennis courts

Kenneth Graham

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — The South Orange Board of Trustees will hold a public hearing Monday, June 25, at its 7:15 p.m. meeting at SOPAC to discuss naming the South Orange tennis courts outside the Baird the “Kenneth Allen Graham Tennis Courts.”

Community members wishing to speak will be limited to two minutes to speak. Written statements of unlimited length may be submitted as well. Members of community groups or other organized groups are requested to coordinate their testimony and select a spokesperson or two to express the view on behalf of their group. Any letters already submitted are considered recorded testimony.

Graham, the oldest of seven children, was born June 28, 1942, and was a true ambassador for the game of tennis. Even as a child, friends say he embraced the sport, and would locate walls that he and his friends could hit against, as courts were scarce — particularly for blacks during that time. A lifelong resident of South Orange, Graham graduated from the Newark College of Arts and Sciences in 1976, with a bachelor’s degree in zoology, but turned his skills and passion for tennis and teaching into a coaching career. Graham flourished as an accomplished instructor at leading New Jersey Racquet clubs, and as head men’s tennis coach for Fairleigh Dickinson University-Teaneck and Rutgers-Newark. But, it was on his home courts, at the Baird Community Center, where he rooted his generous and enthusiastic spirit, and for decades, until his death on June 11, 2017, nurtured these public courts. He welcomed and encouraged all ages and races to gather, socialize, learn and play there.