MacPherson remembers Graham as dynamic

Evangelist Rev. Billy Graham will be laid to rest today (Friday), as one of the most influential preachers of the 20th century. Graham held indoor/outdoor rallies with sermons that were broadcast on radio and television. His six decades of television of (Billy Graham Crusades), ran from 1947 until his retirement in 2005.

Beloit resident and retired journalist, Dave MacPherson, now 85, was able to attend one of Graham's crusades at the age of 34 while shaking his hand during an interview for the Kansas City News Press. The crusade, held in the old Kansas City Municipal Baseball Stadium was packed during the September, 1967 first appearance of Billy Graham. A 5,000 voice choir sang with well-known gospel stars. According to the Kansas City Star, 364,000 people came to his Heart of America Crusade, 53,000 of them in one record-setting night. Graham held three crusades in Kansas City, the last one at Arrowhead Stadium in 2004. 

"I remember Graham as being very vocal," said MacPherson. "He was very well known, and the stadium was packed during the 1967 crusade. He was a very influential, dynamic and non-scandalistic human being."

MacPherson moved to Beloit in 2009 with his wife Wanda who wanted to be closer to relatives. He has always had a passion for journalism and received an English degree at Long Beach State College in California at the age of 22.   After working at the San Gabriel Valley Daily Tribune in Glendora, Calif. MacPherson continued as a managing editor of the Herald American in Downey, Calif. and later freelanced for television news spots in Los Angeles. He moved to Kansas City for 20 years where he wrote and took photographs for the Kansas City News Press, and at different times covered live news events for radio. His movie footage of live tornado action has been shown on network television.   

MacPherson was sent to cover the Billy Graham event and was captured in a photo with the man that preached to live audiences of nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories through various meetings and reached hundreds of millions more through television, video, film, and webcasts. 

Graham died in his sleep at 7:33 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at the age of 99. His body was taken to Morris Funeral Home in Asheville and was moved to Charlotte via motorcade last Saturday. 

Graham was a spiritual adviser to American presidents and provided spiritual counsel for every president from Harry Truman until his death. His racial integration for his presentations, starting in 1953. He invited Martin Luther King Jr. to preach jointly at a revival in New York City in 1957. According to Wikipedia, Graham once bailed King out of jail in the 1960's when he was arrested during demonstrations. 

Graham's funeral today is private and by invitation only with 2,300 invitations including President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and the living former U.S. Presidents George H.W. Bush and his son George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. 

MacPherson also remembers shooting photos of Harry Truman when he was in his 80's.

"I covered several presidential events because they all wanted to come and visit Truman's Library in Independence, Truman being the only President born in the state of Missouri," said MacPherson. "I was able to shake hands with President Nixon who also golfed with Billy Graham, and during my career I filmed several other Presidents and many other famous persons."

According to USA Today, the public paid its respects last Monday and Tuesday at the Billy Graham Library. Graham's casket was also viewed by many on Wednesday and Thursday in the rotunda of the US Capitol in Washington.

Today, Franklin Graham will speak at the funeral service in Charlotte, as well as Graham's four other children. Graham will then be buried next to his wife, Ruth Bell Graham, who died in 2007.

Graham will be buried in a simple pine casket made by inmates at the correctional facility in Angola, Louisiana. 

Because of Graham's crusades, he has preached the gospel to more people in person than anyone in the history of Christianity. He has appeared on the Gallup's list 60 times since 1955, more than any individual in the world. The Gallup list is an annual poll conducted at the end of years since 1948, that ask Americans, "Who, living today in any part of the world, do you most admire?"


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