Famed evangelist pastor Billy Graham died at his home in North Carolina early Wednesday, February 21, his spokesperson confirmed to the Associated Press. He was 99.
Graham served as a counselor or minister to a dozen U.S. presidents, including Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon and Barack Obama. The AP reported that he preached to more than 200 million people in 185 countries throughout his life, in addition to reaching millions more with his presence on TV, radio and the internet.
The North Carolina native found his spiritual path at the age of 16. He was ordained in 1939 after moving to Florida and later became a key figure in reviving the evangelical Christian movement in the U.S. His largest crusade drew a million people in Seoul, South Korea, in the 1970s.
Known as “America’s Pastor,” Graham battled a number of ailments in the final years of his life, including prostate cancer, pneumonia and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. He held his final U.S. crusade in New York City in June 2005.
Graham is survived by his five children — Rev. William Franklin III, Rev. Nelson “Ned” Graham, Virginia “Gigi” Tchividjian, Anne Graham Lotz and Ruth Graham McIntyre — and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His wife, Ruth McCue Bell, died in June 2007.
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