Famed evangelist Billy Graham dies at 99
(CNN) — Evangelist Billy Graham — a confidant to presidents, a guiding light to generations of American evangelicals and a globe-trotting preacher who converted millions to Christianity — died Wednesday at the age of 99, his spokesman confirmed to CNN.
The skinny preacher with the booming voice evangelized to nearly 215 million people over six decades and prayed with every US president since Harry Truman.
Several presidents, including Lyndon Johnson, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, relied closely on his spiritual counsel.
He was tall and handsome, with a disarming aw-shucks demeanor and a Southern twang to his voice. But Graham’s influence, historians say, was monumental. Some called him “America’s pastor,” others referred to him as the “Protestant pope.”
Here’s a look at the life of evangelist Billy Graham.
Birth date: November 7, 1918
Birth place: Charlotte, North Carolina
Birth name: William Franklin Graham Jr.
Father: William Franklin Graham Sr., dairy farmer
Mother: Morrow (Coffey) Graham
Marriage: Ruth (Bell) Graham (August 13, 1943-June 14, 2007, her death)
Children: Nelson Edman, William Franklin, Ruth Bell, Anne Morrow and Virginia
Education: Florida Bible Institute (now called Trinity College), Th.B. (Theology), 1940; Wheaton College, B.A., 1943
Other Facts: Grew up on a dairy farm near Charlotte, North Carolina.
Graham has been listed by Gallup as one of the “Ten Most Admired Men in the World” more than 50 times.
Has met with every US president from Harry Truman to Barack Obama.
Has preached to over 215 million people in more than 185 countries.
Billy Graham’s illnesses include fluid on the brain, prostate cancer, and Parkinson’s disease.
Timeline: 1934 – Graham becomes “born again” after hearing an evangelist preach in Charlotte, North Carolina.
December 4, 1938 – Graham is baptized in Silver Lake, Florida.
1939 – Is ordained by a Southern Baptist Convention church.
1943-1945 – Takes over a Chicago radio program, “Songs in the Night”.
1944 – Works with the Youth for Christ organization and travels the country speaking at rallies.
1947 – Accepts the presidency of Northwestern Schools, an educational complex founded by the First Baptist Church of Minneapolis.
1948 – Resigns from Youth for Christ.
1949 – Holds crusades in tents in downtown Los Angeles. Originally scheduled for three weeks, the crusades are so popular they run for seven weeks.
1950 – Founds the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) to establish order and policies for his crusades.
1950 – Begins a weekly Sunday night radio program, “The Hour of Decision”.
1950s – Founds World Wide Pictures, a motion picture division of BGEA.
1952 – Begins a daily column of advice, “My Answer,” still distributed by Tribune Media Service.
1954 – Crusade in London lasts twelve weeks and draws huge crowds.
1957 – Crusade at Madison Square Garden in New York runs nightly for sixteen weeks and is covered by the national press.
1981 – Wins the Religious Broadcasting Hall of Fame award.
1983 – Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
1986 – Wins the National Religious Broadcasters Award of Merit.
1996 – Awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
1999 – First non-musician to be inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
2000 – Wins the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation Freedom Award, for monumental and lasting contributions to the cause of freedom.
2001 – Awarded an honorary knighthood.
November 2000 – Franklin Graham takes over for his father as Chief Executive Officer for the BGEA.
2002 – A recording of a 1972 conversation between Graham and President Nixon, in which they both make anti-Semitic remarks, is released. Graham later apologizes.
June 24-26, 2005 – Graham leads “his last crusade” at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, New York, speaking to more than 230,000 people.
August 2007 – Graham is hospitalized for 11 days to treat intestinal bleeding.
February 2008 – Graham is hospitalized for six days to replace a valve in a shunt designed to regulate brain pressure.
August 12, 2012 – Admitted to Mission Hospital in Asheville for treatment of a pulmonary infection believed to be bronchitis. He is released two days later.