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Billy Graham, Christian Evangelist and Spiritual Adviser to Presidents, Dies at 99

Southern Baptist became staple on TV and radio for six decades and served as spiritual adviser to U.S. presidents from Harry Truman to Barack Obama

The Rev. Billy Graham, a Christian preacher and spiritual adviser to presidents going back to Harry Truman, died Wednesday morning at the age of 99.

Over a seven-decade career, Graham also became an icon of American religious life and a television staple.

The news was confirmed by church sources to NBC. He had received treatment in recent years for cancer, pneumonia and other ailments.

Ordained a Southern Baptist minister, Graham reached more than 200 million through his personal appearances, including his annual Billy Graham Crusades, and millions more through his pioneering use of television and radio starting in the 1940s.

Beginning with Harry S Truman, he became an informal spiritual adviser to U.S. presidents of both political parties that earned him the name “America’s Pastor” and broadened his public appeal.

In 1995, his son William Franklin Graham III took his place as leader of his Evangelistic Association.