Waynesboro, Va. — Rev. Billy Graham was being remembered around the world Wednesday night by followers, U.S. presidents and family members, including his daughter, Ruth.
Ruth Graham holds dear to her many private memories of a man who preached to hundreds of millions of evangelical faithful around the globe.
“He always saw himself as a farm boy from North Carolina and that was it,” she said. “Daddy was never after accolades, he was never after fame, he was never after money, he was never after what the world called ‘importance.’ He was after God’s pleasure.”
The middle of Billy Graham’s five children, Ruth Graham learned of her father’s passing Wednesday morning from her home in Waynesboro, Va., shortly before it made headlines worldwide.
“It was very peaceful. He just took a deep breath and he was gone,” she said. “The Lord called him home.”
Billy Graham led evangelistic crusades for half a century and counseled presidents of both political parties.
“He was a world citizen and none of us have lived in a world without him, and so it’s going to be a different world because, I think, my father had a huge impact on this world and this country,” Ruth Graham said.
Growing up in North Carolina, Ruth Graham said she and her siblings never knew of their father’s fame. Instead, she remembers the walks in the woods and the silly games he would play. She also remembers her father’s love when she returned home after making what she calls “a terrible mistake” with her second marriage.
“When I got out of the car he said, ‘welcome home.” That’s what God does for us when we come with our brokenness and our needs. He never condemns us, he welcomes us and he loves us and my father showed to me God’s grace in the way no one ever had,” she said.
Ruth Graham said her family will mourn with the masses, but the faith instilled by their father and developed by their mother until her death in 2007 gives them reason to celebrate life.
“It’s a happy day for us because daddy is in the presence of Jesus and we know he’s been reunited with our mother,” she said.
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