Memorial set for race director, NSA stalwart Skip Achuff

Skip Achuff in 2011. ©Tod Marks

Family and friends of C. Wayne “Skip” Achuff, who served as race director of the Radnor Hunt Races in Malvern, Pa., for nearly two decades, will have an opportunity to celebrate his life in a pair of memorials scheduled for October and November.

The first will be held at Thornbury Farm CSA, 1256 Thornbury Road, West Chester, Pa., on Oct. 9 at 4 pm; the second, at the National Steeplechase Museum in Camden, S.C., 200 Knight’s Hill Road, on Nov. 20 at 1 pm.

Achuff, who died at his West Chester, Pa., home on Aug. 28 after a lengthy bout with cancer, was a lifelong horseman, and made an imprint on the sport as a jockey and racecaller for Equibase. He struck a dapper appearance at many National Steeplechase Association meets, notable for his bright colored impeccable attire and distinct bow ties. 

“Skip was not only a calm, cool and collected race director, but he also served as an official at my (Winterthur in Delaware) and other race meets for many years,” said Jill Abbott, who serves as the chairwoman of the NSA’s Race Chair Committee. “The Winterthur Race is only two weeks before Radnor’s and he was always there to support our race when I am sure he had a million things to do to prepare for his race. It shows how vested he was in the success of racing, and his devotion to help our steeplechase family.”

Carol Griffin, who was in charge of the Radnor Races at the Brandywine Conservancy from 1997 to 2016, fondly recalled her associate:

“Working with Skip was great; he loved racing and helped make the Radnor Hunt Races one of the top three meets on the circuit. He always had ideas for new ways to grow. Most of them were a hit, so we had a lot to celebrate. Skip did that well, too. Lots of good times.”

A tribute on the Radnor Races Facebook page lauded Skip’s “can-do” and “positive” outlook, traits that were much-admired by friends and colleagues.

“Dearly missed by us all, he will be remembered for his love of horses, decadent carrot cakes and splendid collection of pink ties,” his friends at Radnor happily remembered. 

Born on Aug. 20, 1945, to Wayne and Yvonne Achuff, in Glen Riddle, Pa., Achuff graduated from Penncrest High School and attended Philadelphia College of Art. He had many interests, but an abiding passion since adolescence was riding horses. 

After service in the U.S. Navy (from 1962 to 1968), and active duty on Flagship for the Second Fleet, USS Newport News, Achuff made a career working with horses. He rode steeplechasers as a professional jockey, trained racehorses for a time, and was also an owner. Even after retirement from riding, he stayed connected to the sport. 

Outside of his equine pursuits, Achuff owned, operated, and developed Brass Ladle Products from the restaurant he had shared with his father. Despite his casual demeanor, he was a perfectionist in all his endeavors, his family recalled. 

Some of Skip’s friends called him “a man’s man,” others, “a ladies’ man,” they remembered. He had many friends, male and female, who joined him in pursuing his many interests: tennis, golf, sailing, camping, travel, antiques, art, hunting and, of course, anything to do with horses and dogs. He was thoughtful about his dress and created his own style, sometimes flamboyant. Skip valued family and friends above all else, always supportive, and non-judgmental. All will miss his open invitation to join him by the fire on the back porch to enjoy a cigar and a bourbon. 

Achuff was preceded in death by his parents and is survived by his wife, Kathy; daughters, Jacquelyn Michelle (Sheila) and Sarah Tantorski (Mark); only grandson, Nicholas Trafficante; sisters Carolyn Duff of Columbia, S.C., Nancy Coffman (Ken) of Berwyn, Pa., Sherri Quigley of Chadds Ford, Pa., and brother, Douglas (Barbara) of Laurel, Del.; also 13 nieces and nephews; and his Parson terrier, Harry.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Achuff’s pet project, Twenty for the Tower, a campaign to restore the Stewards Tower at the Radnor Hunt racecourse. Contributions can be sent to Brandywine Conservancy, P.O. Box 141, Chadds Ford, Pa. 19317 (please indicate Twenty for the Tower on the memo line) or made online at