William Franklin Graham, Jr. (Billy Graham) was born on November 7, 1918 near Charlotte, North Carolina. "Billy" was the first of four children whose father, William Franklin, was a successful farmer and businessman. Both mom and dad were Christians and brought up their children in the Reformed Presbyterian Church.
In 1934, evangelist Mordecai Fowler Ham began preaching at a series of revival meetings in Charlotte. He stirred up quite a controversy charging the local high school with immoral behavior. Billy attended those meetings, partly because they were controversial. But while listening to the preaching, Billy Graham committed his life to Christ.
After attending Bob Jones College he transferred to Wheaton College in 1940. It was there he met and fell in love with Ruth Bell. She was the daughter of missionary surgeon, L. Nelson Bell. Ruth had grown up on a mission station in China. After graduation, Ruth and Billy were married on August 13, 1943 when Billy served as pastor of a Baptist church in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois. It wasn't long before Billy was preaching on radio on Songs in the Night. He persuaded his friend George Beverly Shea to join him. He left soon after to become vice president of Youth for Christ. It wasn't long before he was preaching all over the country.
By the 1950s Billy Graham held evangelistic campaigns in all the major U.S. cities as well as in Africa, Asia, South America, and Europe. The most prominent meetings of his career were the Greater London Crusade of 1954 and the New York Crusade of 1957. From that point on he became a worldwide-known evangelist. It was at this time when he began his weekly radio program, Hour of Decision®
In 1996, his oldest son, William Franklin Graham III was made head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and it was announced he would eventually be his father's successor.
Mr. Graham is regularly listed by the Gallup organization as one of the "Ten Most Admired Men in the World," whom it described as the dominant figure in that poll since 1948-making an unparalleled 51st appearance and 44th consecutive appearance. He has also appeared on the covers of Time, Newsweek, Life, U.S. News and World Report, Parade, and numerous other magazines and has been the subject of many newspaper and magazine feature articles and books.
For more than 60 years, Montreat (North Carolina) has been home to the Graham family where Billy and Ruth (who died in 2007) raised three daughters and two sons. Today the family includes 19 grandchildren (many in ministry as well) and numerous great grandchildren.
Dr. Graham's historical bio is more than seven pages in length and can be viewed in its entirety through the website link of the Billy Graham Center at http://www.billygraham.org/MediaRelations_Bios.asp?id=0