CHARLOTTE, N.C., Nov. 15, 2017 – Russ Busby, who spent six decades traveling the world as evangelist Billy Graham’s photographer, passed away yesterday at his son’s home in California following a long illness. He was 86.
Busby joined the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in 1956 when Graham held a Crusade in Oklahoma City, Okla. Busby managed a local photography studio, and he tracked the Graham team down in their hotel to show them examples of his work. Soon he was a part of the ministry, traveling to dozens of countries over the ensuing decades as he photographed Graham with everybody from presidents and kings to survivors of natural disasters.
At one point, President Lyndon B. Johnson offered Busby a job as the official White House photographer, but Busby declined saying that he felt called to serve the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
“He traveled all around the world with my father, taking countless historic shots, and continued to provide photography for ministry events and my Crusades even after my father was no longer able to travel. Russ was a valued member of the team and a wonderful friend of the family,” said Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, who was just four years old when Busby began working with the ministry.
“Anyone who had the privilege of meeting Russ Busby was lightened by his humor, captured by his love for people, and most of all touched by his devotion to his Savior Jesus Christ,” continued Franklin Graham. “Russ was wiry and never ceased to maneuver himself to capture just the right shot. Hardly ever was he seen without a camera strapped around his neck.”
Busby’s images of Graham speaking to hundreds of thousands of spiritually-hungry people have become iconic; particularly his 1973 shot of more than one million people in Seoul, South Korea (the largest one-day attendance in Graham’s Crusade ministry), and his 1985 pictures of people filling the streets and perched atop buildings as Graham preached the Gospel behind the Iron Curtain in Romania.
Busby’s pictures have been used on the covers of books, magazines and newspapers around the world. His lasting impact can be seen in Billy Graham: God’s Ambassador, his collection of images first released in 1999.
“The legacy of Russ Busby is cherished in our hearts and memories. He will be missed but never forgotten,” said Franklin Graham.
Busby was preceded in death by his wife of more than 50 years, Doris, his son Bruce, and his daughter Carolyn. He leaves behind his son Dan, his daughter Becky, and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are pending at this time.
NOTE TO EDITORS: Pictures of Russ Busby are available for download and use at https://bgea.box.com/v/RussBusby.