Ruth Bell Graham dies at 87

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ruth Bell Graham, wife of evangelist Billy Graham died today at her home in Montreat, North Carolina, United States, surrounded by family members, according to a family spokesperson. She was 87 years old.

She had grown noticeably weaker over the course of the past several weeks, suffering from degenerative osteoarthritis of the back and neck, and also underwent treatment for pneumonia two weeks ago. She asked for her feeding tube to be removed Wednesday; following her request, and after consultation with her family, she ceased to receive further nutrients. Billy Graham made a mention of her during the dedication of his library, saying that she was bedridden, and that she was "getting closer to meeting God in Heaven." He also announced that the couple will be buried at the library.

"Ruth was my life partner, and we were called by God as a team," Billy Graham said in a statement announcing her death. "No one else could have borne the load that she carried. She was a vital and integral part of our ministry, and my work through the years would have been impossible without her encouragement and support."

Bell was primarily a missionary doctor. She was the head of a Presbyterian hospital in China. Ruth grew up in China and spent three years of her high school career in North Korea.