William Franklin Graham, Jr. was born November 7, 1918 to William Franklin and Morrow Coffey Graham outside of Charlotte, NC. Graham, Sr. was a farmer and business man. Billy, as his son was called, was their eldest child, being followed by Catherine, Melvin and Jean.

Graham committed his life to Christ at an evanglistic crusade featuring Mordecai Ham in 1934. In 1936, Billy began attending Bob Jones College, in Cleveland, TN. Graham left after a few months, and began attending Florida Bible Institute in early 1937. He graduated with a bachelor of theology in 1940. He attended Wheaton College after that graduating with a BA in anthropology in 1943. Also, while at Wheaton, he met Ruth Bell, the daughter of a surgeon and missionary to China. Ruth would later become Billy's wife.

Billy became involved in a Sunday morning radio program, continuing the preaching ministry he had begun during his time in Florida. It was here that he began is association with George Beverly Shea, a popular soloist. Billy was also serving as pastor of the United Gospel Tabernacle during this time, but soon left both to become vice-president of Youth for Christ. Graham began to speak at YFC rallies during this time and eventually tapered off his work with YFC to begin holding his own evangelistic rallies.

in 1947, Graham was convinced by William Riley, the then president of Northwestern Schools of Minneapolis, to replace him as president. During this time, Graham's evangelistic ministry took off. During his Los Angeles crusade, Graham came to nationwide attention when a number of people, both famous and infamous,came to salvation. Graham continued to preach in the U.S. and abroad becoming internationally known.

He soon established the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and began is now famous radio program, The Hour of Decision. Graham continued to hold crusades, generally between three to five a year. In the early 60's, Graham's organization established a place to hold seminars and teaching programs. The center, known as the Billy Graham Center and the Cove, is still popular today.

Graham has been listed as one of the Gallup poll's Ten Most Admired Men in the World 43 times since 1955. He is the recipient of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Freedom Award and the Congressional Medal. He is the father of five children and his son, Franklin, has been named the CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, after Graham announced he had Parkinson's disease.

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