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PASSING UNTO GLORY : EVANGELIST BILLY GRAHAM DIES AT 99

Billy Graham,  counsellor to presidents and the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history, has died at age 99.

Graham had been treated in recent years for cancer, pneumonia and other ailments.

Mark DeMoss, his spokesman, confirmed that Graham died Wednesday morning at his home in Montreat, North Carolina.

His message and service to US 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.

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.

He preached a simplified protestant message about sin and especially redemption. He did so without rancour and, especially in later years, without much emphasis on the prospect of hell-fire.

His voice rang out, insistent and resonant in the drawl of his native North Carolina. He used the same artful persuasion that once had made him a top Fuller-brush salesman.

“I’m selling the greatest product in the world,” Graham said in 1954. “Why shouldn’t it be promoted as well as soap?”

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