SquashTalk >Al Ahram 2001, Cairo, Egypt > Historical Records

William Ramsdell Dann, 1926-2006
By Rob Dinerman, Dec 18, 2006
Squashtalk Independent News; ©
2006 SquashTalk LLC

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Squash Star Had a Half Century Doubles Partnership  

has learned of the death earlier this month of Will Dann, a charter
member of the Buffalo Squash Hall Of Fame (inducted in 2000)
and winner with left-wall partner and lifelong friend Nelson
Graves II of four U. S. and four Canadian National Doubles age-group
championships, who succumbed on December 9th after a six-month
bout with cancer at age 80.

Will Dann (photo courtesy
Jesse Dann)

also was a solid singles player (with five 50-and-over Buffalo
city titles to his credit) and noted bagpipe player as well (who
performed for years as a member of the Caledonia Bagpipers),
but he is best known for the remarkable (indeed, quite possibly
unparalleled) longevity of his partnership with Graves, Dann’s
childhood friend, fellow Buffalo native and Dartmouth ’50 classmate
(after they had spent two years in the Navy together), with whom
he formed a classic doubles partnership, with Dann providing
the pace and speed from his right-wall post that set up Graves’s
exceptional shot-making skills and court acumen.

was at the suggestion in the early 1950’s of Al Malloy, the Buffalo
Tennis & Squash Club head pro at the time and
later a legendary squash and tennis coach at Penn, that Dann
and Graves teamed up on the doubles court, faring well in the
invitational tournaments of the day, including the inaugural
event hosted by their own club in 1956. When the Buffalo Tennis & Squash
Club hosted its golden-anniversary 50th edition of this tourney
in December ’05, Graves and Dann not only entered the 70-and-over
flight but got
all the way to the finals
, even though they were
each just months away from their respective 80th birthdays!

Will Dann and Nelson Graves
collect silver at the 1999 Canadian National Doubles
(photo courtesy Nelson Graves)

latter phenomenon underscores the depth and staying power of
the degree to which this pair was "joined at the hip":
born a mere two weeks apart, each the god-parent to one of the
other’s sons, they were friends and doubles partners, through
good times and bad, through injuries and slumps, for more than
FIFTY YEARS, a cautionary and emphatic contrast to today’s climate,
especially the ever-changing and demonstrably loyalty-free top
tier of the ISDA pro tour, where partnerships are known to last
fewer than 50 DAYS, and, as one current example should confirm,
only two of the top seven teams in this season’s upcoming North
American Open (Gary Waite/Damien Mudge and Chris Walker/Viktor
Berg, who met in the final) are intact from the Open of a year

And there were far more good times than bad for
the Graves/Dann tandem, especially when they won the Canadian
40’s in ’67, the Canadian and U. S. 50’s in ’78, the U. S. 60’s
in ’87, the Canadian 60’s in ’88 and the Canadian and U. S. 70’s
in ’97, an especially gratifying achievement in the latter case
for occurring on their home courts in Buffalo in front of their
enthusiastically cheering friends, family and club members, who
turned out in force to cheer these popular protagonists to victory.
Seven-time Buffalo city A Doubles champs during their younger
years, they played in their club’s annual invitational more than
three dozen times, the last time, as noted, just last December,
a year almost to the day prior to Dann’s death.

Dann’s life, like
his partnership with Graves, was marked by stability and loyalty;
he worked in various capacities at Marine Midland Bank for more
than three decades prior to retiring in the early 1990’s, and
was married for the last 57 years of his life to Marian (Taddy)
Taylor, who survives him, as do his sons, Jessie and William
Jr., and a total of four grand-children.

Even as recently as his
last practice game with Graves this past March (in which, as
the latter happily noted, they prevailed over much younger opponents),
Dann appeared to be in good health. But a bad case of shingles
shortly thereafter likely made him vulnerable to the cancer near
his lung that followed, and he spent his final few weeks in hospice
care near his East Aurora home.

see: Court on Canadian Island

Will Dann at one of his favorite
courts: Campement
in Ontario

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Historical information PSA Men's Pro Event:

Year Winner Runnerup Scores
1996 Jansher Khan Ahmed Barada  
1997 Peter Nicol Jansher Khan  
1998 Ahmed Barada Martin Heath 15/5,15/17,15/13,13/15,15/13
1999 Peter Nicol Ahmed Barada 15-9, 15-13, 15-11
2000 Peter Nicol Ahmed Barada 15/14, 9/15, 15/3, 15/12


Historical information PSA Women's Pro Event:

Year Winner Runnerup Scores
1997 Sarah Fitz-Gerald Michelle Martin  
1998 Michelle Martin Cassie Jackman  
1999 Michelle Martin Carol Owens 9-6, 9-0, 10-9
2000 Leilani Joyce Carol Owens 8/10, 9/7, 9/5, 3/9, 9/5



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