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Evangelist Billy Graham Dies At 99

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Rev. Billy Graham
The Rev. Billy Graham preaches at one of his numerous crusades.
Evangelist Billy Graham Dies At 99

Prominent evangelist, Rev. Billy Graham, died Wednesday at age 99 at his home in Montreat, North Carolina US, spokesman Jeremy Blume said.

Graham was known for his numerous crusades which captured nearly 215 million people over six decades.

According to Todd Shearer of DeMoss Associates, he died from “natural causes.”

Several US 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,” CNN said.

Graham is reported to have persuaded more than 3 million people to commit their lives to Christianity and his preaching was heard in 185 of the world’s 195 countries, according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

“He was probably the dominant religious leader of his era; no more than one or two popes, perhaps one or two other people, could come close to what he achieved,” said William Martin, a former historian at Rice University and the author of “A Prophet with Honor: The Billy Graham Story.”

Graham, who had been in ill health for a number of years, was regularly listed in polls as one of the “Ten Most Admired Men in the World.”

William Franklin Graham Jr. was born Nov. 7, 1918 and raised on a dairy farm in Charlotte, N.C.

At 15, he made his personal commitment to Christ at a revival meeting in Charlotte. After attending Bob Jones College and the Florida Bible Institute, Graham was ordained a Southern Baptist clergyman in 1939.

In 1943, he graduated from Wheaton College, where he met fellow student Ruth McCue Bell, daughter of a medical missionary, who had spent the first 17 years of her life in China.

They married in August 1943 and had five children, 19 grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren.

Ruth Graham died in June 2007 after 64 years of marriage.

His last crusade was in 2004. His elder son, Franklin, has long been expected to succeed his father as head of his ministry.

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