The Reverend Billy Graham — who advised US presidents for decades and whose sermons were broadcast to millions — died on Wednesday, February 21. He was 99 years old.
Born on November 7, 1918 near Charlotte, North Carolina, Graham was the oldest of four. In 1939, he became an ordained Southern Baptist clergyman. In 1943, he graduated from Wheaton College, where he met the woman to whom he was married for 43 years. Ruth McCue Bell, the daughter of a medical missionary, and Graham married in August of that year and went on to have five children, 19 grandchildren, and numerous great-grandchildren. Ruth died in June 2007.
For seven decades, Graham delivered his crusades to packed venues. For After seven decades of delivering the gospel, Graham stepped away in 2005 after preaching what he called his "Final Crusade," a three-day event in New York City. At the time, he said: "Deep inside we need something else. And that something else can be brought about by Jesus. When I touch the podium, I can feel a new strength and a new power come and it's a thrilling thing for me to preach the gospel at this age."
In addition to his many crusades, Graham authored many books, conducted weekly radio programs, published his own magazine, and produced shows for Christian TV networks. He has also repeatedly made Gallup's list of most admired men and women, appearing on the list a record 60 times since 1955.
This is a developing story and will be updated shortly.