Billy Graham dead at 99

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MONTREAT, N.C. – Billy Graham, known to many as America’s pastor, has passed away at the age of 99, according to multiple news reports.

A representative for Billy Graham Library confirms Billy Graham passed away just before 8 a.m. Wednesday morning from natural causes at his family home in Montreat just outside Asheville.

Graham’s public ministry took off with his first crusade in Los Angeles in 1949. A planned three-week stay lasted closer to eight.

He counted among his friends Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and many former presidents.

Dr. King even preached at a Graham revival in New York in 1957.

Graham was there for the nation after the tragic events on Sept. 11, 2001, and the people of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

America’s pastor has provided counsel to generations of U.S. presidents, beginning with Harry S. Truman.

Staging revivals around the world, the founder of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has reached untold millions of people in person.

Graham wrote 32 books in his lifetime, many of which became top sellers. His autobiography “Just As I Am,” published in 1997, achieved a “triple crown,” appearing simultaneously on the three top best-seller lists in one week.

Standing by him was his beloved wife Ruth who raised their five children while he was away preaching, often for six months at a time. Billy Graham will be buried on the grounds of Charlotte’s Billy Graham Library. He’ll be buried next to his wife, Ruth. Like her, he will be laid to rest in a plywood coffin made by prison inmates.​

The two both struggled with health problems late in life, but were never closer as a couple until her death in June 2007.

Graham leaves behind his children Franklin, Nelson, Virginia, Anne and Ruth, 19 grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren.

“Every life Billy Graham ever touched — including those that never became president, never spoke in a crusade — is better because he was a good and faithful servant,” said former President Bill Clinton.

Graham’s funeral will be held on March 2 at noon at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte. The funeral will be invitation-only.