PUBLIC INVITED TO ATTEND FUNERAL SERVICE FOR
ASHEVILLE, June 14 – Mrs. Ruth Bell Graham, beloved wife of evangelist Billy Graham, died in her home at 5:05 p.m. today from complications of pneumonia, surrounded by her husband and five children. Though her health became increasingly unstable in recent days, she was very peaceful at the end and simply stopped breathing.
A public funeral service to honor Mrs. Graham, has been scheduled for 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 16 in Anderson Auditorium at the Montreat Conference Center in Montreat, N.C.
Mr. Graham and his family have extended an invitation for the public to join them in honoring the life and memory of their wife and mother at this event. Anderson Auditorium’s seating capacity is limited to 2,000, on a first come basis, after which guests will be directed to additional overflow seating at three closed-circuit video venues, including Chapel of the Prodigal and Gaither Chapel in Montreat. As security precautions will be in effect, no large bags, backpacks or coolers will be allowed into the auditorium.
This will, in essence, be Mrs. Graham’s only funeral. A private, family-only, interment service will be held the following day at her final resting place in the Prayer Garden on the grounds of the recently-dedicated Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., which is closed on Sundays, with no events for the public at that location on the day of her burial.
During the height of the summer conference season, access to Anderson Auditorium is limited, so a shuttle service has been arranged to accommodate public attendance at the service. Because of the absolute unavailability of parking in Montreat, anyone interested in attending the funeral must use public shuttles, which will begin operating at 11 a.m. on the day of the service. Shuttle pick-up points for the public will be in Black Mountain at the following locations, in order of pick-up: the old Food Lion, 408 U.S. 70 Highway; the Ingles Market parking lot at 2913 U.S. Highway 70 West (southeast corner of the Campfire Restaurant); and the BI-LO grocery store at 205 N.C. Highway 9, Black Mountain.
Additional information on Mrs. Graham’s life and memorial events is available online at www.billygraham.org/ruthgraham; individuals can also send condolences and reflect on her unique ministry impact. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that tax deductible contributions be made to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) General Fund, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201.
Members of the public desiring to pay their respects to Mrs. Graham are also welcome to position themselves along the processional route the morning of the service. The cortege will depart Morris Funeral Home, 304 Merrimon Ave. in Asheville, and proceed east on Route 70 to Anderson Auditorium.
“Her happiness and fulfillment did not depend on her circumstances,” the younger Ruth concluded. “She was a lovely, beautiful and wise woman, because early in life she made Christ her home, her purpose, her center, her confidant, and her vision.”
Mrs. Graham’s significant role in Mr. Graham’s ministry was recognized in 1996, when they were jointly awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in a special ceremony in the Capital Rotunda in Washington, which reflected a consensus of love and support from all branches of government in attendance.
Ruth Graham was always a vital part of Mr. Graham’s evangelistic career, and he turned to her for advice and input about many ministry decisions. One of the early uses of media by the BGEA was the “Hour of Decision” radio program begun in 1950, which she named. After her upbringing in China and high school experience in Korea, she continued to have a burden for the people of Asia. She encouraged her husband to visit and later accompanied him during his historic visits to the People’s Republic of China.
Ruth Graham has been in frail health since suffering spinal meningitis in 1995. That was exacerbated by a degenerative back condition that began with a fall out of a tree while helping a grandchild fix a swing in 1974 that resulted in chronic back pain for many years. Bedridden or wheelchair-bound since the late 1990s, Mrs. Graham wasn’t able to accompany her husband during his last few years of ministry, but was always a continued source of inspiration and support for her him through her prayers and wise biblical counsel.
Mrs. Graham is survived by her husband Billy: daughters, Virginia, Anne Morrow, and Ruth Bell; sons William Franklin, III, and Nelson Edman; 19 grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren.
— 30 —
NOTE TO EDITORS: Thank you for your assistance in announcing the need for public and media to take the shuttle to the funeral service as well as limitations on large bags, backpacks and coolers at that service. Please note that the Media Center will open at 8am on FRIDAY, JUNE 15th in Dogwood Lodge at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove to facilitate media coverage of the memorial service for Ruth Bell Graham. The Billy Graham Library parking lot will open at 4:30am on Friday for media stand-ups. For further information, please call the Media Center at (828) 771-4901, or find details online at www.alrcnewskitchen.com/ruthgraham.
MEDIA CONTACTS :