Photo Credit: Evangelist Association

American preacher and evangelist Rev. Billy Graham has died.

He was 99 years old.

Graham served as a counselor or minister to a dozen U.S. presidents, and he preached to an estimated 200 million people in 185 countries around the world during his life.

His message reached millions more as he maintained a near-constant presence on radio, television and the internet.

The longtime evangelist appeared on Gallup’s list of most admired men and women 60 times since 1955 — every year the research company asked the question.

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“America’s Pastor” came from modest means and grew up on a dairy farm in Charlotte, North Carolina. He found his spiritual path at 16, charmed by the traveling minister and temperance movement leader Mordecai Ham. Graham later moved to Florida and was ordained there in 1939, NBC news reports.

Graham was known for his sense of humour and for maintaining a nonpartisan Christian view, which earned him some criticism.

But his dedication to ministry and unity is long evident and best remembered in his refusal to pay heed to segregation policies, forcing churches to integrate for his services.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. counted Graham as a close friend and ally, once remarking, “Had it not been for the ministry of my good friend Dr. Billy Graham, my work in the Civil Rights Movement would not have been as successful as it has been.”

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