Benjamin T. Wright
Aug. 24, 1922 - Nov. 30, 2019

Benjamin T. Wright headshot

Benjamin T. Wright, senior official, past president and chief historian at U.S. Figure Skating, passed away on Nov. 30, 2019. He was 97.

For more than seven decades, Wright served in virtually every capacity at The Skating Club of Boston, U.S. Figure Skating and the International Skating Union (ISU).

He became a national judge in 1950, a national accountant in 1952, a national referee in 1958, an international judge in 1962, an international referee in 1966, a World judge in 1967, a World referee in 1970, an international dance referee in 1971 and a World dance referee in 1974.

Wright served as an official at six Olympic Games, 22 World Championships, 12 European Championships, eight World Junior Championships and 25 U.S. Championships.

“Ben Wright was a lion in the sport of figure skating and at The Skating Club of Boston,” The Skating Club of Boston President Joe Blount said. “A member for many, many decades, Ben served the Club in multiple capacities, including chief historian and longtime board member.  

“No matter how far Ben went in the sport as judge, official and referee, both nationally and internationally, he always chose to return to Boston for test sessions and competitions, and to do what he could for advice and support for skaters at every level at the club. We will always remember and treasure Ben for his keen memory, sharp insight, dry wit and ever-direct manner.”

Wright held the office of president at U.S. Figure Skating from 1973 to 1976. He was the chairman and member of the ISU’s Figure Skating Technical Committee from 1973 to 1992. He served as chairman of the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame and Museum Committee for 20 years and is the author of Skating in America (1921-1996): The 75th Anniversary History of the United States Figure Skating Association.

“Ben took great pride in being the chief historian of U.S. Figure Skating,” SKATING magazine editor Troy Schwindt said. “He possessed the entire collection of SKATING magazines dating back to the inaugural issue in December of 1923. He made a point to professionally bind the issues after each year.

“His knowledge and frame of reference was second to none when it came to U.S. Figure Skating history. Ben’s passion for the sport was unequaled.”

Wright was an honorary member of the ISU and U.S. Figure Skating and a member of the World Figure Skating and U.S. Figure Skating Halls of Fame. Wright was an officer, board member and honorary member of The SC of Boston, of which he became a member in 1937.

Wright skated as a youngster, but admitted he lacked natural talent.

“Early in my career, my peers would say, ‘You are never going to make it; here’s a pencil. Go take down numbers.’ So I became an accountant,” Wright said in an April 2012 story in SKATING magazine.

Wright met his wife, Mary Louise, through skating. In 1941, Wright’s mentor, SKATING magazine editor Theresa Weld Blanchard, sent him to cover the North American Championships in Philadelphia. There, he interviewed Mary Louise, who was a member of the burgeoning Saint Paul Four, which won for the first time over the Canadians since the inauguration of the event in 1923.

His best friend, Stephen Tanner, had tipped off Wright about Mary Louise before that competition.

“So he was recommending Mary Louise to me before I even met her,” said Wright, who said it was love at first sight.

In 1942, they had their first date during the U.S. Championships in Chicago and were pen pals when Wright left for military service in World War II. Wright graduated from Harvard in 1943 and Boston University School of Law in 1950.

They became a serious couple in 1950 when he was invited by Mary Louise’s father to trial judge in the Minnesota area. They married on March 13, 1953.

Wright followed in Mary Louise’s judging footsteps, calling her the “anchor” of the partnership during his years of coming up through the ranks.

“She was very senior to me, especially dance,” Wright said.

While members of The Skating Club of Boston, they traveled the country and world judging events and serving on countless international and U.S. Figure Skating committees.

When they weren’t judging competitions or tests, the Wrights enjoyed curling. They were also tennis officials and golfers.

[Reprinted from the U.S. FIgure Skating press release]