The Rev. Billy Graham , the Christian evangelist whose worldwide crusades and role as adviser to decades of U.S. presidents made him one of the best known religious figures of his time, died Wednesday at age 99 at his home in Montreat, N.C.
His Christian crusades took him from the frenzy of Manhattan to isolated African villages and according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website, he preached to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history. Source Fox News
William Franklin Graham Jr. (November 7, 1918 - February 21, 2018) was a career evangelist and an Evangelical Christian.
He had been a spiritual adviser to multiple U.S. presidents and was number 7 on Gallup's list of admired people for the 20th century. He was a member of the Southern Baptist Convention.
His wife Ruth Bell Graham, (1920 - 2007) supported her famous husband as he spread the Gospel to millions but dispelled the notion of the demure preacher's wife with her humor, spunk, poetry-writing and motorcycle riding.
"Ruth was my life partner, and we were called by God as a team,"
"No one else could have borne the load that she carried. She was a vital and integral part of our ministry, and my work through the years would have been impossible without her encouragement and support."
Billy Graham Awards and honors
Billy Graham had received the Congressional Gold Medal; the Templeton Foundation Prize for Progress in Religion; the Sylvanus Thayer Award for his commitment to "Duty, Honor, Country," and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation Freedom Award for contributions to the cause of faith and freedom.
He had received the Big Brother of the Year Award for his work on behalf of the welfare of children. He had been cited by the George Washington Carver Memorial Institute for his contributions to race relations. He had also been recognized by the Anti-Defamation League of the B'nai B'rith and the National Conference of Christians and Jews for his efforts to foster a better understanding among all faiths.
For providing a platform during his events for many Christian musical artists — many new to singing and songwriting and others not so new — Billy Graham was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1999 by the Gospel Music Association.
On May 30, 1999, Graham was invited to give the pre-race Invocation at the Indianapolis 500.
In 2000, Former First Lady Nancy Reagan presented the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award to the Rev. Graham. The award is only given to "those who have made monumental and lasting contributions to the cause of freedom," and those who "embody President Reagan's lifelong belief that one man or woman truly can make a difference." Graham had been a friend of the Reagans for years.
On September 14, 2001 in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Dr. Graham led a prayer and remembrance service at Washington National Cathedral attended by President George W. Bush and past and present leaders.
In December 2001 he was presented with an honorary knighthood, Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE), for his international contributions to civic and religious life over 60 years.
Graham had been the minister to several presidents, including speaking at one presidential funeral and one presidential burial. Graham presided over the graveside services for former president Lyndon B. Johnson in 1973 and took part in eulogizing the former president with former Texas Democratic governor John Connally, an LBJ protégé and fellow Texan who was wounded in the assassination that made LBJ president. Graham also spoke at Connally's funeral and the funeral of former first lady Pat Nixon within one week of each other in June of 1993. He also spoke at the funeral of Richard Nixon in 1994. Graham was unable to officiate the state funeral of Ronald Reagan on June 11, 2004 due to recent double hip replacement surgery, which former President George H.W. Bush acknowledged during his own eulogy. Graham had been Reagan's first choice. Because Graham was hospitalized, the Rev. John Danforth, Missouri Republican senator in Reagan's day, officiated the funeral. Failing health prevented the Rev. Graham from offciating at the state funeral of former President Gerald R. Ford in Washington D.C. on January 2, 2007.
On May 31, 2007, the $27 million Billy Graham Library was officially dedicated in Charlotte, North Carolina. Graham himself was present along with former Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.
Long before Billy Graham's legendary 1957 crusade in New York — the beginning of a journey that would take him to 185 countries and territories — she understood that his calling would eclipse her own. The woman who once had dreams of becoming a missionary in Tibet surrendered them for her husband.
Ruth and Billy Graham aboard the Queen Mary in 1966
Billy Graham and Ruth married Aug. 13, 1943, and had five children. In addition to her husband, Ruth Graham's survivors include her children: Virginia, Anne, Ruth Bell, Franklin (William Franklin III), and Nelson Edman.
Many have heard of Franklin Graham and his leadership in his father's ministry, but few know his brother and sisters
Left to Right: Gigi Graham, Anne Graham, Franklin Graham, Ned Graham, Ruth Graham
Billy Graham, Ruth Bell Graham