William Franklin Graham, Jr. was born November 7,
1918 to William Franklin and Morrow Coffey Graham outside
of Charlotte, NC
. Graham, Sr. was a farmer
. Billy, as his son was called, was their eldest
, being followed by Catherine, Melvin and Jean.
Graham committed his life to Christ at an evanglistic
crusade featuring Mordecai Ham in 1934. In 1936, Billy
began attending Bob Jones College, in Cleveland, TN.
Graham left after a few months, and began attending
Florida Bible Institute in early 1937. He graduated with
a bachelor of theology in 1940. He attended Wheaton
College after that graduating with a BA in anthropology
in 1943. Also, while at Wheaton, he met Ruth Bell, the
daughter of a surgeon and missionary to China. Ruth would
later become Billy's wife.
Billy became involved in a Sunday morning radio program,
continuing the preaching ministry he had begun during
his time in Florida. It was here that he began is
association with George Beverly Shea, a popular soloist.
Billy was also serving as pastor of the United Gospel
Tabernacle during this time, but soon left both to
become vice-president of Youth for Christ. Graham
began to speak at YFC rallies during this time and
eventually tapered off his work with YFC to begin holding
his own evangelistic rallies.
in 1947, Graham was convinced by William Riley, the then
president of Northwestern Schools of Minneapolis, to
replace him as president. During this time, Graham's
evangelistic ministry took off. During his Los Angeles
crusade, Graham came to nationwide attention when
a number of people, both famous and infamous,came to
salvation. Graham continued to preach in the U.S. and
abroad becoming internationally known.
He soon established the Billy Graham Evangelistic
Association and began is now famous radio program, The
Hour of Decision. Graham continued to hold crusades, generally
between three to five a year. In the early 60's, Graham's
organization established a place to hold seminars and
teaching programs. The center, known as the Billy Graham
Center and the Cove, is still popular today.
Graham has been listed as one of the Gallup poll's Ten Most
Admired Men in the World 43 times since 1955. He is the recipient
of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Freedom Award and the Congressional
Medal. He is the father of five children and his son,
Franklin, has been named the CEO of the Billy Graham
Evangelistic Association, after Graham announced he
had Parkinson's disease.