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A Farewell to Ruth Graham

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Ruth and Billy Graham, photo:Dallas Religious News

Mrs. Ruth Bell Graham, beloved wife of evangelist Billy Graham, died in her home recently from complications of pneumonia. She was surrounded by her husband and five children. A public service was held in her honor on June 16th in Anderson Auditorium at the Montreat Conference Center in Montreat, N.C.

Ruth Graham was a legend in regards to Christian ministry helping to support her husband for over 60 years. Ruth Graham was born at Qingjiang, Kiangsu, China, as Ruth McCue Bell. Her parents, Dr.L. Nelson Bell and Virginia McCue Bell, were American medical missionaries at the Presbyterian Hospital 300 miles north of Shanghai. She grew up in China in a deeply religious household.

Graham studied for three years at a high school in Pyongyang, now in North Korea, before graduating from a school in Montreat, North Carolina, when she returned to the states at the age of 17, while her parents were on furlough.

In the fall of 1937 she enrolled at Wheaton College, outside Chicago, Illinois, where she met Billy Graham. They married on August 13, 1943. In 1945, after a brief stint as a suburban pastor, her husband became an evangelist for Youth for Christ. The Grahams moved to Montreat near her parents where the Grahams continued to live for the rest of their married life. Despite Billy Graham being one of the world's most famous Baptists, his wife remained a Presbyterian and often taught Sunday school.

Between 1945 and 1958, Mrs. Graham gave birth to five children, whom she raised sometimes single-handedly while her husband was away on extended national and international evangelistic crusades. The three daughters and two sons who survive her are all actively involved in ministry, including eldest son Franklin, who heads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) founded by his father.

Ruth Graham was an author writing over 14 books, speaker and could pray with the best of them. In speaking about his beloved wife Billy Graham stated in a recent press release that his wife was "a spiritual giant" with unparalleled knowledge of the Bible and a commitment to prayer that was a challenge and inspiration to everyone.

She will be greatly missed and our thoughts and prayers are with her family.

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