Beloved throughout the world, William Franklin Graham Jr., known to all as Billy Graham, died at his home in Montreat, N.C., Feb. 21 at age 99. He was to be buried March 2 next to his late wife, Ruth, on the grounds of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C.
Identified as the most influential preacher of the 20th century, from 1947 to 2005 Graham preached to live audiences of nearly 215 million people in more than 185 nations and territories through his meetings.
According to his staff, more than 3.2 million people have responded to the invitation at Billy Graham Crusades to accept Christ as savior. As of 2008, Graham’s estimated lifetime audience, including radio and television broadcasts, video, film and webcasts, topped 2.2 billion. Because of his crusades, Graham preached the gospel to more people in person than anyone in the history of Christianity.
“His legacy will be that he’s the greatest preacher of the gospel in at least the last thousand years, and maybe the greatest preacher of the gospel since the Apostles,” said Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte.
Graham was repeatedly on the Gallup Poll’s list of most admired men and women. He was listed 60 times since 1955, more than any other individual in the world.
Known for his humility, Graham often said the first question he would ask the Lord in Heaven would be “Why me?” — why did God choose to use him in such a way.
Of Graham’s 417 crusades, 10 were held in the Northwest. Three were in Portland (1950, 1968 and 1992), four were in Seattle (1951, 1962, 1965 and 1976), one was in Tacoma (1983), one in Spokane (1982) and one was held in both Seattle and Tacoma (1991).
Graham’s son Franklin, daughter Anne Graham Lotz and grandson Will are among family members carrying on Graham’s evangelistic legacy.