Sandra and I are saddened this morning after learning of the death of Billy Graham. We rejoice today, because Mr. Graham once said "It will be reported that Billy Graham has died, but that won't be the truth. He said the truth is that he had only moved to a new location".
I remember when we named 15th Street as Billy Graham Avenue, his daughter Gigi came for the dedication at Lee University. He asked Gigi to do three things. One was to take a picture of First Presbyterian Church where he worshiped while he attended Bob Jones College in Cleveland, a picture of old Parks Belk where he worked as a shoe salesman and a picture of his dormitory room at Medlin Hall. All of those were accomplished.
On Nov. 7, his 99th birthday, the city extended Billy Graham Avenue two more blocks and skyped the ceremony to his home in Montreat.
Billy Graham said not to call him Dr. Because his doctorates were honorary and that would take away from those who earned a doctorate.
During the street dedication it was noted that as a 19-year-old student he preached his first sermon at Charleston Methodist Church and his second service to preach was at Antioch Baptist Church in Bradley County. A lot of local history associated with Mr. Graham.
Sandra and I had the honor to be invited to Gigi's wedding at the Cove near Asheville. Mr. Graham gave his daughter away at the wedding which was a beautiful ceremony. We will never forget that opportunity to be with him and the family including Cliff Barrows, music director for the crusades, who attended Bob Jones College here for four years. Mr. Barrows had fond memories of Cleveland.
The world will miss this evangelist who held steadfast in his ministry and never a scandal or blemish on his life.
Mayor Tom Roland