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Eric Paddon

Rev. Billy Graham Death

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It's an unusual place for an obituary item but Reverend Billy Graham was unique in the annals of World's Fair history by being the only person who had a pavilion that carried his name.       That was a testament to how influential Billy Graham and his ministry organization had become in the early 1960s that they felt it would better serve their interests to have a pavilion of their own and not be just one exhibitor within the Protestant-Orthodox Center (which they had been invited to be part of).    And because Graham was by then someone entrenched as one of the most admired figures in America and established as pastor to Presidents, his name did carry that extra weight.

It is to Graham's credit personally that despite being part of a profession filled with so many who had their meteoric rises of fame that would sometimes end in the shame of scandal that was never the case with him.     Even those who did not share his religious convictions always knew that he was the most sincere of individuals.

It was because I attended Wheaton College, where Graham's papers are kept, and because I was teaching there briefly some years ago, that my ability to first connect with this group became possible as it allowed me to go through his papers for materials related to the Graham Pavilion and present them to Bill Young as a feature for nywf64.com which he was kind enough to do.      All other feature work I did on the site, as well as my involvement at this forum which furthered my appreciation and fascination for an event I was born five years too late to have experienced wouldn't have been possible without that personal connection (my aunt's husband also worked a summer at the Pavilion and as he told me, the work there helped pay for the engagement ring).      Graham's impact on the history of American Christianity is another topic for another place but his role in the history of the Fair is of itself a fascinating one that deserves to be noted here.

http://www.nywf64.com/bilgra01.shtml

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Eric:

Thanks for posting this-- I too just learned of Reverend Graham's passing about an hour ago, and my first thought was to post it here in our World's Fair forum because of his connection to the 1964/65 New York World's Fair.  He was a great man who never let his fame go to his head; he did so many great things for so many people in his lifetime-- he left behind some very big shoes to fill.  I was born six days before the fair opened in 1964, so I was also born too late to experience the NYWF.  I have always enjoyed viewing photos of the Billy Graham Pavilion-- I think that the Pavilion itself was a very attractive structure-- a real shame it couldn't be saved and rebuilt elsewhere.  I have a very large collection of NYWF memorabilia, and I have about a half dozen items related to Reverend Graham's Pavilion.  May he rest in peace.  Ronald

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I've thought about Billy Graham at this time of his death.  I was never really a fan and generally mistrust evangelists and remember reading that Harry Truman was uncomfortable with him wanting to visit the White House.  Truman referred to Graham as a huckster.  

Having said this, it was a moment of embarrassment in Graham's life that caught my attention and won my respect for him.  About a dozen or so years ago, some tapes from the Nixon library were released and they revealed a rather brutal anti-semitic exchange of ideas between Nixon and Graham.  Graham indicated he did not recall the exchange but acknowledged the harsh words were, indeed, his.

When a reporter asked him what he intended to do now that the tapes were in the public arena, Graham never missed a beat.  He said he needed to get onto his knees and beg every Jew everywhere for forgiveness for his words.  That really hit me.  How easy just to brush it off or make some excuse.  But Billy Graham embraced his mistake and used it as an object lesson for all of us who have fallen short in some area in our lives.  He profusely apologized and did so with great humility and sincerity.  

One recent news account of Graham's death mentioned this story and added that Mr. Graham spent the rest of his life atoning to his Jewish friends and to Jews everywhere.  One can ask no more of a man than this.

Through that mistake in Graham's life, I came to realize what a remarkably honest and sincere soul he was.  He mattered because he lived up to the standards he expected from his supporters and followers.  He taught me dignity in the face of failure and honor in atonement and apologies.  I will always remember this.

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Thank you all for your insights and reflections. 

Younger people often have a justifiably poor opinion of preachers. Happily it took me a minute to remember the once household names of two involved in prominent scandals years back, and I will not dignify and amplify their impact by mentioning their names.

Graham was cut from a different cloth. I hope history preserves that distinction  

RIP. 

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3 hours ago, xl5er said:

Thank you all for your insights and reflections. 

Younger people often have a justifiably poor opinion of preachers. Happily it took me a minute to remember the once household names of two involved in prominent scandals years back, and I will not dignify and amplify their impact by mentioning their names.

Graham was cut from a different cloth. I hope history preserves that distinction  

RIP. 

Amen.

As long as those who fix Reason firmly in her seat, they will understand wisely.

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