Obituary for Billy Graham
MONTREAT, N.C. (AP) — The Rev. Billy Graham, counselor to presidents and the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history, has died at age 99.
Spokesman Mark DeMoss tell The Associated Press that Graham died Wednesday morning at his home in Montreat, North Carolina.
He had been treated in recent years for cancer, pneumonia and other ailments. His wife, Ruth, died in 2007. Graham reached more than 200 million through his appearances and millions more through his pioneering use of television and radio.
Unlike many traditional evangelists, he abandoned narrow fundamentalism to engage broader society. His message and service to U.S. presidents from Dwight Eisenhower to George W. Bush earned him the nickname "America's Pastor." In 1995 his Evangelistic Association designated his son William Franklin Graham III as the ministry's leader.
William Franklin Graham Jr. KBE (November 7, 1918 – February 21, 2018), known as Billy Graham, was an American evangelical Christian evangelist, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, who became well known internationally after 1949. He was widely regarded as the most influential preacher of the 20th century. He held large indoor and outdoor rallies; sermons were broadcast on radio and television, some still being re-broadcast into the 21st century. In his six decades of television, Graham was principally known for hosting the annual Billy Graham Crusades, which he began in 1947, until he concluded in 2005, at the time of his retirement. He also hosted the popular radio show Hour of Decision from 1950 to 1954. He repudiated segregation and, in addition to his religious aims, helped shape the worldview of a huge number of people coming from different backgrounds leading them to find a relationship between the Bible and contemporary secular viewpoints. Graham preached to live audiences of nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories through various meetings, including BMS World Mission and Global Mission. He also reached hundreds of millions more through television, video, film, and webcasts.
On August 13, 1943, Graham married Wheaton classmate Ruth Bell (1920–2007), whose parents were Presbyterian missionaries in China. Her father, L. Nelson Bell, was a general surgeon. Ruth Graham died on June 14, 2007, at the age of 87. The Grahams were married for almost 64 years.
Graham and his wife had five children together: Virginia Leftwich (Gigi) Graham (born 1945; an inspirational speaker and author); Anne Graham Lotz (born 1948; runs AnGeL ministries); Ruth Graham (born 1950; founder and president of Ruth Graham & Friends, leads conferences throughout the U.S. and Canada); Franklin Graham (born 1952, who serves as president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and as president and CEO of international relief organization, Samaritan's Purse); and Nelson Edman Graham (born 1958; a pastor who runs East Gates Ministries International, which distributes Christian literature in China).