Billy Graham's visits to GR remembered as pastor's health fails

10:39 PM, Dec 9, 2013   |    comments
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(WZZM) -- The health of Reverend Billy Graham is being watched closely.

The evangelists son said last week he appears to be declining. A spokesman for Graham says while the 95-year-old is frail, his vital signs remain strong. Graham has been hospitalized twice since October, suffering from respiratory congestion.

Billy Graham held his first city-wide crusade in Grand Rapids at the Civic Auditorium in 1947. Graham held it under the banner Youth for Christ. According to the Billy Graham Library, interest in the crusade was initially very low, but after the first night, the 5,000 seat auditorium was filled to capacity.

That wasn't Billy Graham's only visit to Grand Rapids. He returned in 1999 for an event hosted by former President Gerald Ford. He and his wife toured the Presidential Museum and shared what he remembered about some of the exhibits on display there.

Museum Curator Donald Holloway says Graham has incredible presence on stage, but was much different in person.

"On stage he has a voice and a presence that commands attention. But then when I met him in 1999, it was a very different experience. He was a very humble man, and a man who was very much interested in the person he was talking to," recalled Donald Holloway, museum curator.

The 1999 visit was the first time the Reverend Billy Graham toured the Ford Presidential Museum.

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