Graham Family Trivia: What Did Ruth Bell Graham Give Her Husband Before Their Engagement?

By   •   July 29, 2015

playing chess
Billy and Ruth Graham playing a game of chess at home—Ruth with a mischievous grin.

Q: What did Ruth give Billy before he gave her an engagement ring?

Engagement photo
Billy and Ruth were married Aug. 13, 1943.

A: A fright.

On a September day in 1941, Billy Graham was driving along a dirt road on his way to see Ruth Bell in Black Mountain. He was dressed in white from collar to shoes and carrying a yellow gold engagement ring in his pocket. Little did he know that the woman he passed on the side of the road was his Ruth.

Knowing that Billy would be driving down the road, Ruth decided to pull a prank. Enlisting the help of a friend, she had her front teeth blacked out, unkempt hair and was wearing a homemade, flower-printed dress at least two sizes too big. Billy didn’t recognize this barefoot woman until he caught another glimpse of her in his rear view mirror. He backed up his car to pick up what he would later describe as a “snaggletoothed” mountain girl, who would soon be his wife.

—Paraphrased from Just As I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham and A Time for Remembering: The Ruth Bell Graham Story by Patricia Daniels Cornwell