Montreat, N.C. — Ruth Bell Graham, wife of the famous evangelist Billy Graham passed away Thursday at 5:05 p.m. She was 87 years old.
The Associated Press released the news of her death around 8 p.m. on Thursday evening. A statement by Larry Ross, spokesman for the Rev. Billy Graham, said that she died at their home in Little Piney Cove with the Reverend and their five children by her side. Billy Graham was quoted in reports as saying, “Ruth was my life partner, and we were called by God as a team. No one else could have borne the load that she carried. She was a vital and integral part of our ministry, and my work through the years would have been impossible without her encouragement and support.”
Ruth Bell Graham will truly be missed by all who knew and admired her but she has lived a long and fruitful life, making a lasting impression on all she has come into contact with. Ruth Graham did many remarkable things in her life aside from being a mother to five and the wife of a famed Christian evangelist. She was the author or co-author of 14 books, was often teacher of the college-age Sunday school class of her Presbyterian church in Montreat and since founding it in 1966, she was actively involved in the Ruth and Billy Graham Children’s Health Center in Asheville, North Carolina.
Ruth was her husband’s closest confidant and would help him write and prepare his sermons. She would listen with an attentive ear and let him know how they sounded or if something sounded off to her. A strong and confident woman that while reluctant to become a public figure herself, was very much the backbone of her husband’s success, Ruth was a lifelong Presbyterian although she was the devoted wife of the most prolific Baptist evangelist, Rev. Billy Graham.
Ruth handled being the wife of a full-time evangelist with grace and respect. While she often had to care for their five children alone, she knew her husband was doing God’s work. She once replied of her husband’s frequent absences; “I’d rather have a little of Bill than a lot of any other man.”
Everyone who met Ruth Bell Graham found her an inspiration. President Bush and first lady Laura Bush called her a “remarkable woman of faith” who “inspired people around the world with her humor, intelligence, elegance, and kindness.” In 1996 she received the Congressional Gold Medal for “outstanding and lasting contributions to morality, racial equality, family, philanthropy, and religion.”
She helped establish the Ruth and Billy Graham Children’s Health Center in Asheville, and the Billy Graham Training Center near Montreat along with many other amazing life accomplishments. She was an inspiration to all who met her and will be missed by many.
Ruth Graham has been bedridden for several months prior to her death suffering from degenerative osteoarthritis of the back and neck (a result of a serious fall in 1974), and she was recently recovering from pneumonia.
CNN reports, ” A public memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at the Montreat Conference Center. A private interment service will be held the next day in Charlotte.”
Wife of evangelist Billy Graham dies- http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/06/14/ruth.graham.ap/index.html