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Billy Graham's Last Sibling, Jean Graham Ford, Passes Away

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Jean Graham Ford, the last living sibling of Rev. Evangelist Billy Graham, has died, the family announced. She was 91.

Ford is remembered for her strong faith in the Lord and her love for family and community. 

"My Aunt Jean loved the Lord Jesus Christ, her family, her church, and the work of God's people around the world. She, along with her husband Dr. Leighton Ford, was always a great encourager to my father throughout his entire ministry. He sought her counsel on many issues throughout his lifetime," Evangelist Franklin Graham shared. 

Ford had been in declining health since December and died Thursday morning after suffering a stroke, The Charlotte Ledger reports.

She was the youngest of the four Graham children and was 14 years younger than Billy Graham, whom she affectionately called "Billy Frank". 

Ford contracted polio at the age of 11 and it paralyzed her throat, but she did not allow that to hinder her faith in Christ. 

"Even at that time in her young life, and faced with the possibility of death as a child, she often said that it would not have bothered her [to die] so much because she knew she was going to heaven. She traced her faith back to her childhood, commenting that Jesus 'was part of our family,'" Graham recalled.

She went on to attend Wheaton College where she met her husband Leighton Ford. He is described as a "powerful evangelist" who went on to serve as an associate evangelist with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) for three decades.

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Franklin Graham recalled that Leighton remained thankful for the support of his loving and faithful wife especially after they lost their oldest child, Sandy, in 1981 during heart surgery. He was 21 years old. 

"We made that decision that night," she said in an interview years later about her son's death. "God is good...Even when we weren't feeling that way."

In 1985, the couple launched Leighton Ford Ministries where she became an evangelist. 

And she never shied away from sharing her faith. 

In 2018, Jean spoke at Billy Graham's funeral in Charlotte.

She shared that when she heard the news of her brother's death she was reminded of the hymn, "Heaven Came Down and Filled My Soul With Glory."

"On February the 21st, Heaven came down and took my brother from me," she said, addressing funeral attendees. "One day, Heaven will come down and take me. And I know what [my brother] would want me to say today is, 'Heaven is coming again and would like to take you also.'"

Franklin Graham shared that his aunt's testimony for the Lord lives on. 

"We are thankful for her life that impacted so many when she would share her testimony, saying, 'Sometimes it's so difficult to trust our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ, and yet to me, there's no option. That happened to be ingrained in me, my trust in what He promises; my trust in who I know Him to be.'"

"We will miss her in this life but look forward to eternity together in the presence of our Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord," he concluded.

Billy Graham, the oldest of the four children, died at the age of 99 in 2018. Catherine Graham McElroy died in 2006 at 86, and Melvin Graham died in 2003 at 78.

Jean is survived by her husband Leighton, her son, Kevin, and her daughter, Debbie. 

2018: Billy Graham Dies at Age 99 Leaving an Eternal Legacy of World-Changing Evangelism

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About The Author


Talia Wise has served as a multi-media producer for, CBN Newswatch, The Prayer Link, and CBN News social media outlets. Prior to joining CBN News she worked for Fox Sports Florida producing and reporting. Talia earned a master’s degree in journalism from Regent University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia.