Billy Graham’s Life in Pictures

By   •   November 3, 2022

Billy Graham at Youth for Christ podium
Billy Graham, born Nov. 7, 1918, would have been 104 this year. He passed away in 2018 at age 99 after a lifetime of ministry. At 27, Billy Graham resigned from his pulpit at First Baptist Church in Western Springs, Illinois, to go on the road for Youth for Christ—an organization founded to minister to youth and servicemen during World War II.
Billy and Ruth Graham on wedding day
While attending Wheaton College, Billy Graham met Ruth Bell. He thought Ruth was the woman God had long been preparing to stand beside him. Her intelligence, practicality, wit, determination, and wholehearted love for Jesus attracted him to her. After some uncertainty while dating, on July 6, 1941, Billy received a letter from Ruth declaring “I’ll marry you.” He quickly bought an engagement ring. A little over two years later, they were husband and wife, college graduates, and lifelong partners in ministry.
tent in Los Angeles
A 1949 Crusade in Los Angeles caught the attention of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. The resulting national and international news coverage launched Billy Graham into prominence. The Crusade was supposed to last three weeks but instead ran for eight.
Billy Graham preaching on trailer
Billy Graham preached with passion in both speech and body language. He was confident and articulate, but said it wasn't him who moved people toward Christ. "Prayer is crucial to evangelism," he said. "No matter how logical our arguments or how fervent our appeals, our words will accomplish nothing unless God's Spirit prepares the way." This picture is from his early preaching days—his stage at this event was a flatbed trailer.
Billy Graham with family
Billy and Ruth Graham had five children: Virginia ("Gigi"), Anne, Ruth ("Bunny"), Franklin, and Ned.
Billy Graham recording radio
Billy Graham and Cliff Barrows started recording The Hour of Decision for the radio in 1959. Mr. Graham advocated for using every means possible to spread the Gospel. His ministry expanded with the use of radio, TV, print media, and the internet. Listen to audio archives and more.
Billy Graham preaching in Seoul, South Korea
During a five-day Crusade in Seoul, South Korea, Billy Graham preached to more than 3 million people. The 1973 Crusade was his largest ever.
Sharing the Gospel to millions worldwide often meant long periods of time without seeing his wife and children. Still, Billy and Ruth Graham cherished whatever time they had together.
Billy Graham children
Billy Graham spent time with people of all ages, races, and backgrounds during his travels—including these children during a 1960 visit to Africa.
Billy Graham visited the bombed-out homes of Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1972. He once said, "War is only one facet of the larger problem of evil which has been with the human race since the beginning."
While visiting the Westside Deli in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1972, Billy Graham called the owner's mother, who admired the preacher, to say "hello."
Billy and Ruth Graham resided in Montreat, North Carolina, where they could have a breath of fresh air and spent many hours with their Bibles open in time with the Lord.
The first fully integrated public meeting ever held in South Africa was the Billy Graham Crusade in Durban in 1973. Billy Graham told the crowd, “Christianity is not a white man’s religion. And don’t let anybody ever tell you that it’s white or black. Christ belongs to all people.” Mr. Graham also held a Crusade in Johannesburg that year, about 20 years after receiving initial invites to preach in South Africa. He wouldn’t accept an invitation unless the Crusades were racially integrated. Two decades before that, he personally removed ropes segregating the crowd at a Chattanooga, Tennessee, Crusade.
Billy Graham's three young daughters and wife, Ruth, rush to greet their father and husband on a deck of the liner Queen Mary following his arrival in New York on July 6, 1954, after a five-month preaching tour of Great Britain and Western Europe. Anne, 6, runs into his arms, followed by Ruth, 3, and Virginia, 8.
Billy and Ruth Graham smile during a blustery day honoring the opening of Billy Graham Parkway, where the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association headquarters and Billy Graham Library would later be built in Billy Graham's hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. The Billy Graham Archive and Research Center is opening to researchers Nov. 8 within walking distance of the Library. At the Archive and Research Center, Billy Graham's ministry can be examined up close through multimedia files from his 70-plus years of evangelism.
Billy Graham was a pastor to many presidents, including Lyndon B. Johnson—who once shared this about Mr. Graham: “No one will ever fully know how you helped to lighten my load or how much warmth you brought into our house. … My mind went back to those lonely occasions at the White House when your prayers and your friendship helped to sustain a President in an hour of trial.”
Billy and Ruth Graham celebrated 50 years of marriage in 1993, and Ruth tried on the handmade dress she wore as a young bride.
"If I could only give one piece of advice to a new Christian, it would be this: Develop the discipline of spending time alone with God every day," Billy Graham said. "Whether you call it your quiet time or daily devotions or some other term, there is no substitute for a daily time alone with God."
Billy Graham was moved to tears by the cyclone victims in Andhra Pradesh, India, in 1977.
Spending time with his sons, Ned (left) and Franklin (right).
Ruth and Billy Graham relax at home in 1967. The German inscription on the fireplace mantel is the title of the famous hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”
Billy Graham played with his growing children while talking with Ruth.
George Beverly Shea, Billy Graham, and Cliff Barrows were fast friends. Mr. Barrows, who died on Nov. 15, 2016, led congregational singing and Crusade choirs around the world. Mr. Shea, who passed away April 16, 2013, often sang Gospel tunes in his famous baritone voice before Mr. Graham would preach. Here, the three are on the set of The Hour of Decision TV show in 1952. Although not musically gifted, Mr. Graham made an exception and sang with them in 1984.
The love story of Billy and Ruth Graham is one for the ages. The two were married for more than 60 years, until Ruth went to be with the Lord in 2007. "My wife often said, 'A good marriage consists of two good forgivers,'" Billy Graham said.
Pausing for a family photo. From left to right: Franklin, Virginia ("Gigi"), Anne, and Ruth ("Bunny").
Billy Graham spoke at the Orthodox Cathedral in Timisoara, Romania, in 1985. A crowd estimated at 150,000 greeted him in the public square.
Billy Graham in Vietnam around Christmastime in the mid-1960s. He visited hospitals and prayed with soldiers. He also preached and sang "Silent Night" with them. "In the middle of that war," he said, "men were making their peace with God on Christmas Eve."
Along the mountains of North Carolina, Billy Graham enjoyed spending time with his 19 grandchildren.
Billy Graham and Cliff Barrows recording The Hour of Decision radio program at the pyramids in Egypt in 1960.
Billy Graham said, "Our youth are desperately searching for purpose and meaning in their lives." Here, he answers questions from a group of young people at Eurofest, Brussels, Belgium, in 1975.
Billy Graham with his oldest son, Franklin (middle), who heads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and his grandson, Will Graham, who's executive director of the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. They both continue his legacy in preaching around the world.
Billy Graham in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1954. Mr. Graham preached the Gospel to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history—nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories. Yet, he always deflected any credit to God: "If anything has been accomplished through my life, it has been solely God's doing, not mine, and He—not I—must get the credit."