The life of Billy Graham

Billy Graham was the most dominant American pastor during the second half of the 20th century, counseling nearly every American president since Harry Truman and using the power of his personality to unite the often fractious worldwide evangelical community. In all, he preached to more than 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories, according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Assn. He was heard and seen by hundreds of millions more through television and radio, newspaper columns and the Internet.

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Billy Graham is the first of four children born to Morrow Coffey and William Franklin Graham on the family farm near Charlotte, N.C.

Graham makes a commitment to Christ at a tent revival led by evangelist Mordecai Ham in Charlotte, N.C.

At a small Baptist church near Palatka, Fla., Graham delivers his first sermon.

Graham is ordained as a Southern Baptist preacher.

He graduates from the Florida Bible Institute (now Trinity College).

The same year he graduates from Wheaton College in Illinois, Graham marries Ruth McCue Bell.

Graham has his first job as a pastor at Western Springs Baptist Church near Chicago.

As an evangelist with Youth for Christ, Graham begins an itinerant preaching ministry.

In Grand Rapids, Mich., Graham holds his first citywide evangelism campaign.

He becomes president of Northwestern College and Seminary in Minneapolis.

(Los Angeles Times)

An eight-week tent crusade in Los Angeles catapults Graham into national prominence.

(Los Angeles Times)

Led by the dynamic Graham, the eight-week revival held in downtown Los Angeles ends. More than 350,000 people attend the canvas cathedral. “The revival that started here won’t end with the folding of this tent,” Graham says.

(John W. Wilson / Los Angeles Times)

He founds the Billy Graham Evangelistic Assn. in Minneapolis and begins the “Hour of Decision” national radio broadcast.

(Associated Press)

Graham, second from right, prays on the White House lawn for President Truman and his handling of the Korean crisis.

(Los Angeles Times)

Graham opens a 16-day crusade at the Hollywood Bowl in 1951. The evangelist said he considered Southern California his second home.

His writes his first book, “Peace with God,” which becomes an international bestseller.

(Associated Press)

Graham preaches in Trafalgar Square as part of a 12-week London crusade.

(Associated Press)

A 16-week New York crusade cements the evangelist’s role to the nation and the world, and confirms the importance of using media to spread the Gospel.

Graham begins a nationally syndicated television ministry, with crusades broadcast weekly on ABC.

(Associated Press)

Ruth and Billy Graham arrive in New York aboard the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth after a 2 1/2-month tour of Africa and the Middle East.

He opens a 25-day Los Angeles crusade at the Memorial Coliseum. On the last day, 135,254 people come to see him speak.

(Associated Press)

On President Nixon’s first Sunday in office, Graham presides over a service in the White House. Graham and his wife are photographed with the president, first lady and their daughter Tricia.

(Los Angeles Times)

Graham serves as grand marshal of the Rose Parade in Pasadena.

(Russ Busby / Crusade Information Services)

In South Korea, Graham draws his largest crowd for a single event, with more than 1 million people flooding into Yoido Plaza. He repeats the feat in 1974.

Graham hosts the Lausanne International Congress on World Evangelization. The group produces a statement of faith and strategy that defines the responsibilities and goals of spreading the gospel of Christ.

Graham holds his first crusade in a Communist nation, Hungary.

(Russ Busby / World Wide Pictures)

He attends a peace conference in the Soviet Union.

Graham is invited to speak in the Soviet Union.

Graham is invited to visit China.

(Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times)

Billy Graham is honored by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

His one-day rally in New York’s Central Park draws 250,000, his largest North American audience.

(Los Angeles Times)

Graham delivers the eulogy for former First Lady Pat Nixon at the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda.

His first “youth concert,” at a crusade in Cleveland, targets teenagers with music and a message.

He hosts “Global Mission,” the first crusade to be simultaneously broadcast around the world.

Graham and his wife are awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, with President Clinton praising the couple for practicing “the religion of good citizenship.” Graham hosts a prayer service for victims of the Oklahoma City bombing.

Graham announces a relocation from Minneapolis to Charlotte, N.C.; speaks at the National Cathedral Prayer and Remembrance Service following the 9/11 11 terrorist attacks; and receives an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth.

(Gary O'Brien / Associated Press)

Graham’s son Franklin takes over as president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Assn.

The association’s Charlotte, N.C., headquarters is completed.

(Getty Images)

Graham conducts his last crusade, drawing 90,000 people in New York. His 23-minute sermon emphasizes that nobody knows the hour of death. Noting his own advanced age, he says, “I know it won’t be long.”

(Associated Press)

Ruth Graham dies after 64 years of marriage. Her husband speaks at her memorial service in Montreat, N.C.

Graham and his son Franklin at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Billy Graham Library.
Graham and his son Franklin at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Billy Graham Library. (Chuck Burton / Associated Press)

Graham, 93, is admitted to Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C., for treatment and observation of his lungs.

Graham is taken to Mission Hospital and admitted for a lung infection “thought to be bronchitis,” his evangelistic association says. “Upon admission, he was alert and in good spirits,” according to a statement that asked for people to keep the 93-year-old preacher in their prayers.

Graham is released from a hospital after a two-day stay to treat bronchitis.

Mr. Graham had a quick recovery and responded very well to his treatment,” said Dr. Daniel Fertel, a pulmonologist at Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C.

Graham in 2010.
Graham in 2010. (Nell Redmond / Associated Press)

Graham celebrates his 95th birthday in Asheville, N.C. Hundreds of well-wishers including Donald Trump, Sarah Palin and Ricky Skaggs attend the party.

Sources: Times research

Credits: Megan Garvey, Maloy Moore