The Rev. Billy Graham, counselor to presidents and the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history, has died at age 99. Spokesman Mark DeMoss tell The Associated Press that Graham died Wednesday morning at his home in Montreat, North Carolina. He had been treated in recent years for cancer, pneumonia and other ailments. His wife, Ruth, died in 2007. Graham reached more than 200 million through his appearances and millions more through his pioneering use of television and radio. Unlike many traditional evangelists, he abandoned narrow fundamentalism to engage broader society. His message and service to U.S. presidents from Dwight Eisenhower to George W. Bush earned him the nickname “America’s Pastor.” In 1995 his Evangelistic Association designated his son William Franklin Graham III as the ministry’s leader.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP
In a tweet, President Donald Trump said: “The GREAT Billy Graham is dead. There was nobody like him! He will be missed by Christians and all religions. A very special man.”
VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE
“Billy Graham’s ministry for the gospel of Jesus Christ and his matchless voice changed the lives of millions,” Pence tweeted. “We mourn his passing but I know with absolute certainty that today he heard those words, `well done good and faithful servant.”’
FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER
“Rosalynn and I are deeply saddened to learn of the death of The Reverend Billy Graham,” Carter said in a statement. “Tirelessly spreading a message of fellowship and hope, he shaped the spiritual lives of tens of millions of people worldwide. Broad-minded, forgiving, and humble in his treatment of others, he exemplified the life of Jesus Christ by constantly reaching out for opportunities to serve.”
NORTH CAROLINA GOV. ROY COOPER
“Billy Graham was a strong, humble, positive and passionate North Carolina man of faith who made a difference in the lives of so many. Rest with God, Reverend Graham,” Gov. Cooper said in a statement.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM
“One of the greatest messengers of Christ has gone to his heavenly reward,” Sen. Graham wrote in a tweet. “Dr. Graham spread the good news to millions across the world and led a life beyond reproach.”