Rev. Billy Graham’s life: Photo gallery and timeline

Published February 21 2018
Updated February 21 2018

The Rev. Billy Graham, a North Carolina farmer’s son who preached to millions in stadium events he called crusades, becoming a pastor to presidents and the nation’s best-known Christian evangelist for more than 60 years, died Wednesday at his home. He was 99. This is a timeline of his life.

1918: Born into a strict Presbyterian family near Charlotte, N.C.

1934: Accepts Christ at Charlotte revival by traveling evangelist Mordecai Ham.

1936: Enrolls in Bob Jones College, Cleveland, Tenn.

1937: Unhappy at Bob Jones, he enrolls in Florida Bible Institute in Temple Terrace (now Trinity College in New Port Richey.)

1938: Baptized in Silver Lake, near Palatka.

1939: Delivers first sermon on Easter in Bostwick, near Palatka.

1940: Graduates from Florida Bible Institute, ordained later that year.

1943: Marries classmate Ruth McCue Bell and graduates from Wheaton College, Wheaton, Ill. Becomes preacher at First Baptist Church in Western Springs, Ill.

1944: Chief preacher for Youth for Christ rallies.

1947: First book, Calling Youth to Christ, published.

1949: Media czar Randolph Hearst hears Graham deliver a sermon during Los Angeles revival and instructs editors at his newspapers to "puff Graham." The next day glowing stories about Graham appear on all over the world.

1950: Establishes Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, launches Hour of Decision radio show.

1951: Addresses mass religious service at Al Lang Field to open St. Petersburg’s Festival of States Week.

1953: Preaches at Al Lang Field and speaks at Trinity College, his alma mater, the next day.

1954: Gains attention for his Greater London Crusade.

1956: Founds Christianity Today magazine.

1957: First televised crusade in New York.

1961: Speaks to rallies in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Tampa.

1969: Prays at President Richard Nixon’s inauguration.

1978: Says reading transcripts of Nixon tapes a "profoundly disturbing and disappointing experience" and "what comes through on these tapes is not the man I have known for many years."

1979: Five-day crusade at Tampa Stadium.

1988: Tours China.

1991: Prays with President George H.W. Bush and stays at White House night before Bush launches Operation Desert Storm against Iraq.

1992: Publicly confirms he has Parkinson’s disease.

1993: Leads prayers at President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration.

1995: Picks son Franklin to succeed him.

1996: Awarded Congressional Gold Medal.

1997: Leads prayers at Clinton’s second inauguration.

March 1998: Says he forgives Clinton for his sins because the president is under a lot of stress and has such a "tremendous personality" that "ladies just go wild over him."

April 1999: Inducted into the Gospel Music association Hall of Fame. He is the first non-musician ever selected.

June 2000: A shunt was inserted to relieve fluid on the brain that was affecting his balance.

December 2000: Entered the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis to adjust the shunt.

January 2001: Ill health prevents him from delivering the invocation at President George W. Bush’s inauguration

June 2001: Preached four nights running at his crusade in Louisville, KY.

October 2001: Out of sensitivity to Muslims, Graham changes the names of his services to mission instead of the word "crusade."

December 2001: Made honorary knight of British Empire, one of the highest tributes bestowed by Queen Elizabeth II.

March 2002: National Archives releases recordings made of Nixon in 1972. On one of them Graham says to Nixon that a Jewish "stranglehold" of the media was ruining the country and must be broken.

March 2002: Graham apologizes and issues a statement: "Although I have no memory of the occasion, I deeply regret comments I apparently made in an Oval Office conversation with President Nixon …. They do not reflect my views and I sincerely apologize for any offense caused by the remarks."

November 2004: Graham holds four-day crusade in Los Angeles to mark 55th anniversary of 1949 event that propelled him to national fame.

April 2005: Billy Graham Evangelistic Association opens new headquarters on 63 acres along Billy Graham Parkway in Charlotte after 50 years of being based in Minneapolis.

June 2005: Graham stages his last American crusade in New York City.

May 2007: Billy Graham Library and his restored childhood home open in Charlotte.

June 2007: His wife, Ruth, dies at age 87

April 2010: Returns to Charlotte to help celebrate renovations of his library.

February 2018: Graham dies at age 99 in North Carolina.

Sources: Current biography, Times wires, Times files, Charlotte Observer