Billy Graham: US preacher to millions, adviser to presidents


Graham later enrolled in classes at Florida Bible Institute.

- Graham grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, as a Presbyterian with dreams of playing professional baseball.

Graham met kings, presidents, celebrities and many more ordinary men and women - some 200 million across 185 countries - over the decades.

But Graham wasn't able to escape the scandal unscathed - anti-Semitic remarks he'd made to Nixon in 1972 were revealed almost 30 years later when the tapes the former President had secretly recorded in his home became declassified.

Billy Graham brought the hope of Jesus Christ to millions around the world, and this dedication to spreading the Gospel made him the most iconic and effective evangelist in modern times.

He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1989 and suffered from prostate cancer and hydrocephalus, which is fluid on the brain, The Associated Press reported.

In later years, Graham's son Franklin assumed control of his ministries while the famous evangelist retired to a quiet life in North Carolina.

Graham helped create a movement comprising a mix of denominations, from Southern Baptists to Assemblies of God, representing an estimated 60 million Americans who consider themselves "born again".

Instead, he took a job organizing meetings in the US and Europe with Youth for Christ, a group he helped found. It was first headquartered in Minneapolis, but relocated to Charlotte in 2003.

1948 - Resigns from Youth for Christ. He was in Los Angeles for a three-week crusade that ended up lasting more than eight weeks. At a crusade in Portland, Ore., the funds came in and the radio program "Hour of Decision" got its start.

1950s - Founds World Wide Pictures, a motion picture division of BGEA. Through a newspaper column, he answered thousands of questions about spirituality. He shared the lessons of Sodom and Gomorrah from the Bible, substituting "New York" for the names of the cities of sin, The New York Times reported.

2000 - Wins the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation Freedom Award, for monumental and lasting contributions to the cause of freedom.

Though Franklin has taken the reins for his father and paved his own path on helping spread the message of God, it's unlikely that he or any other individual evangelist will succeed or surpass Billy Graham.

2002 - A recording of a 1972 conversation between Graham and President Nixon, in which they both make anti-Semitic remarks, is released.

Grant Wacker, a Duke University professor of Christian history, says Graham represented, "what most decent churchgoing people thought and ought to think".

Billy Graham (R), the American evangelist and his wife Ruth (C) smile, 19 April 1988 as they meet Chinese inhabitants of Ruth birthplace in Huaiyin, Jiangsu province, China.

Former President Jimmy Carter credited Graham with having an "enormous influence" on his spiritual life. He was in the hospital for nearly two weeks in 2007 for internal bleeding related to prostate cancer.

Graham also was a champion for the Jews persecuted in the former Soviet Union and counseled his evangelical brethren not to proselytize Jews.