Three Generations of Graham Family Love Stories

By   •   February 14, 2013

Billy and Ruth (Bell) Graham

Ruth Bell, a child of missionaries in China, settled in to Wheaton College to study Bible and art. She made friends and became popular with the boys. She did not attach herself to anyone in particular—until her second year, when a new student named Billy Graham flew past her on the stairs of East Blanchard Hall.

“He’s surely in a hurry,” she thought. She’d heard about this new student and his fiery preaching. That Sunday morning, she heard him praying during a prayer meeting.

“There is a man who knows to Whom he is speaking,” she thought.

Billy had heard about Ruth, too. His friend Johnny Streater had described her as one of the prettiest and most spiritual girls on campus. When Billy finally saw her, it was love at first sight.

After watching her from afar for a few weeks, Billy gathered his courage and asked Ruth to attend a performance of Handel’s Messiah. She accepted, and after the date she went back to her room and prayed, “Lord, if You’d let me serve You with that man, I’d consider it the greatest privilege of my life.”

Billy and Ruth continued dating and began talking about marriage, but one issue stood in the way: For years, Ruth had felt that God was calling her to be a missionary in Tibet. While Billy wasn’t opposed to becoming a missionary, he felt a strong calling to preach the Gospel as an evangelist. Ruth tried persuading him otherwise, but it caused more tension. Eventually, they took time apart to pray about the matter.

As Ruth told the story in her book It’s My Turn, it was obvious that she was the one trying to give Billy a calling to Tibet—not God. Finally Billy turned to her and said, “Do you believe that God has brought us together?”

She did.

“In that case,” he replied, “God will lead me and you will do the following.”

That pivotal conversation settled the issue, although Ruth believed strongly in the old saying, “When two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary.” The following summer, while Billy was preaching at a church in Florida, he received a thick letter from Ruth, postmarked July 6, 1941. “I’ll marry you,” the first sentence read. An ecstatic Billy preached that evening, although afterward he didn’t know what he’d preached about. The pastor said he wasn’t sure anyone else knew, either. Billy and Ruth were married Aug. 13, 1943.

In later years, Ruth had no regrets about letting go of Tibet to marry Billy Graham. She would have been in Tibet no more than four years before the political situation would have forced her to leave. And, of that time, Ruth later wrote, “I would have missed the opportunity of a lifetime of serving God with the finest man I knew, having five terrific children, and 15 [now 19] of the most delightful, interesting and lovable grandchildren imaginable. All this, plus an unusual, if not easy, life.” God used her desire to go to Tibet to test her willingness to obey Him.

Anne (Graham) and Danny Lotz

Dan Lotz met Anne Graham, daughter of Billy and Ruth Graham, when he was doing ministry through Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). He had been serving through this organization for several years when he attended an FCA conference very close to where the Grahams lived.

“Anne came over to hear the speakers, and the first time I saw her, that’s all it took for me. I fell head over heels in love with her,” said Dan.

Dan was 28 at the time, so asking 17-year-old Anne out on a date was certainly taking a chance. But, Anne agreed to a date with him during the conference. When he came to pick her up, Ruth Graham told him to have her home by 9:30 p.m.

“So I brought her home by that time and Anne went to bed and I stayed and talked with her mother until about midnight,” remembers Dan.

Their relationship progressed as Dan moved to Raleigh, N.C. to set up his dental practice. Every Friday night, Dan drove to Montreat to see Anne and spend the weekend with the family. At the end of that year, they got engaged.

The couple was married Sept. 2, 1966; Lotz’s father and Billy Graham performed the ceremony.

Cissie (Graham) and Corey Lynch

Cissie Graham, daughter of Franklin and Jane Graham, practically met her husband, Corey Lynch, in her very own home.

In the fall of 2004, Cissie was a freshman at Liberty University while Corey was a sophomore on the football team at Appalachian State University, located in Cissie’s hometown of Boone, N.C.

“I was home visiting for the weekend, when my best friend (and ex-boyfriend) from high school brought two of his teammates to lunch with my family,” Cissie recalls. “Corey had surgery the week before and was still in an arm brace.

“Corey sat next to me, but I was anything but amused with him. He was pretty quiet—which is opposite of my personality—and I actually thought he was rude and arrogant. That is not at all his personality, but those were my first labels for him.”

Over some time, Jane had become an adopted mother to Corey and his teammates, having them over for meals and allowing her home to be a home away from home. Every time Cissie visited her family, she also had a core group of friends waiting for her, and Corey was one of them.

Their friendship progressed and 10 months after their first meeting, Corey confessed his love to Cissie the night before she left to work the semester in Thailand.

Cissie and Corey were married on December 31, 2007.