The Rev. Billy Graham, who transformed American religious life through his preaching and activism, becoming a counselor to presidents and the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history, has died.
Graham passed away Wednesday at his home in Montreat, North Carolina, spokesman Jeremy Blume said. He preached to laypeople and counseled Presidents, but Billy Graham never wavered from spreading the word.
William Franklin Graham was born in North Carolina in 1918 and grew up on a dairy farm. At 15, he gave his life to Christ and was ordained at the age of 19.
By the late 1940s and 1950s, the Southern Baptist minister became an international name, hosting crusades – revival-type events that lasted for weeks in cities all over the world.
Graham's first Nashville Crusade was in 1954. He packed the football Stadium at Vanderbilt University and did the same for his second revival in 1974.
He returned to Nashville again in 2000, when he was 81-years-old, and filled what was then Adelphia Coliseum for a four-day crusade.
Graham was a staple on televisions and radios throughout the country and has written more than 30 books.
Among Graham's most remarkable accomplishments, he's counseled every U.S. President from Harry S Truman to Barack Obama.
He sat down with NewsChannel 5's Chris Clark at his home in North Carolina in the late 1970s. Graham told the story of a lunch with Lyndon Johnson and his wife as the president was trying to decide on a vice president. In 1992, Graham was diagnosed with a disease similar to Parkinson's.
His son Franklin took over the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association after his retirement in 2005. Today, Franklin Graham continues his father's legacy.