Thomas Wesley Graham was born on October 12, 1882 in Carlsbad Springs, Ontario, Canada to John and Margaret Graham. He received the A.B. degree with honors in Philosophy from the University of Toronto in 1903 and graduated in 1907 from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. From 1907 to 1908, he studied at the United Free Church College in Glasgow, Scotland under a Bernadine Orme Fellowship from McCormick. In 1908, he was ordained to the Presbyterian ministry. He received the honorary D.D. from Macalester College in 1920 and in 1949 the Alumni Award for Distinguished Service from Oberlin College.
Before coming to Oberlin, Graham held several pastorates in the Midwest. He was Associate Pastor of Buena Memorial Church in Chicago (1908-1909), Pastor of the Broadway Tabernacle of Mattoon, Illinois (1909-12), and Pastor of the Andrew Presbyterian Church of Minneapolis, Minnesota (1912-20).
Graham was called to Oberlin's Graduate School of Theology in 1920 by Dean Edward Increase Bosworth. He replaced Professor of Homiletics William J. Hutchins, who had been named President of Berea College in Kentucky. After three years, Graham was chosen to succeed the retiring Dean Bosworth. As leader of this main division of the College for twenty-five years, Graham immersed himself in the religious life of the seminary and college. He guided the funding, design, and construction of new seminary buildings, the Theological Quadrangle, Bosworth Hall, and Fairchild Chapel, which were dedicated in 1931. His classes in the College of Arts and Sciences attracted large numbers of non-religion majors. He was active as an advisor for the Oberlin Y's, as chairman of the Religious Interests Committee, and as a trustee of the Oberlin Shansi Memorial Association. In 1948, he succeeded William F. Bohn as Chairman of the O.S.M.A. Board of Trustees.
In the spring of 1948, Graham moved to Greenwich, Connecticut where he assumed part-time duties as Counselor on Religious Work with the Y.M.C.A. of New York City. Graham's long association with the Y.M.C.A. began in 1894, when he became a member of the Boys' Department of the Ottawa (Canada) Y.M.C.A. In Minneapolis, from 1909 to 1912, he was Secretary of the University of Minnesota Y.M.C.A. He served as Y.M.C.A. Secretary in Paris from 1918 to 1919, where he had charge of the Palais de Glace, the main recreational center for American soldiers. He also served as a member of the International Committee of the Y.M.C.A. and its executive committee. For ten years, he chaired the National Student Committee and for 45 years was a committee member.
Thomas W. Graham married Kate Fullerton (1884-1958) on June 16, 1910. In October 1959, following the death of his wife, he married Mrs. Beatrice Bayne Smith, a widow and member of his church. Beatrice Smith Graham had two children from her first marriage. Dean Graham died in Greenwich on June 3, 1971 following a stroke. He was 88.