By MIKE BAKER Associated Press and TIM GHIANNI Staff Writer, The Tennessean
MONTREAT, N.C. — Ruth Graham, 87, who surrendered dreams of missionary work in Tibet to marry a suitor who became the world's most renowned evangelist, died Thursday.
Mrs. Graham died at her home, surrounded by her husband and their five children, said a statement released by Larry Ross, Billy Graham's spokesman.
"Ruth was my life partner, and we were called by God as a team," Billy Graham said. "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."I am so grateful to the Lord that He gave me Ruth ... and my love for her continued to grow deeper every day. I will miss her terribly, and look forward even more to the day I can join her in Heaven."
'She was good for him'
Mrs. Graham had been bedridden for months with degenerative osteoarthritis of the back and neck and underwent treatment for pneumonia two weeks ago. At her request, and in consultation with her family, she had stopped receiving nutrients through a feeding tube for the past few days, Ross said.
Entertainer Charlie Daniels has performed on nine crusades with the Rev. Billy Graham and an additional three since his son, the Rev. Franklin Graham, began spearheading that part of the ministry.
"She was good for him. She was good for the nation. I'm sure she went home to her reward," Daniels said."I think she was very steadying to him. We all need to go home to heal up once in a while. There was an awful lot of pressure on Billy Graham when he was preaching in those huge coliseums night after night. I think she was that place where you go home and get your battery charged and be with someone you can trust 100 percent. She was his port in the storm."