Amazing Women, Tales of Passionate Women

ruth bell graham

You can tell a lot about a person by their family.

At the memorial service for Ruth Bell Graham in 2007, a deep respect, honor, and warmth for their mother was conveyed by all five of her children. She had lived her life as an example to them and they thanked her for it, having left a legacy of grace and gumption when it came to life and living for God.

“Jesus was her center. We knew that Jesus was the reason she was the way she was, but she didn’t preach it. She just simply lived it,” shared daughter, Ruth.

ruth bell graham


Married to famed evangelist Billy Graham for 63 years, her family remembers her as a cornerstone to their own personal walks with Jesus. They consider their lives a testament to the parents who taught the love of Christ both at home and abroad.

Ruth Bell was born in China to medical missionary parents, growing up amidst disease, war, and suffering. Her upbringing fostered in Ruth a desire to become a missionary and help others in the far corners of the world, particularly the mountains of Tibet.

However, it seemed God had other plans for her.

After attending boarding school in what is now North Korea, she headed to North Carolina for high school and college. At Wheaton College is where she met a handsome man fondly and aptly nicknamed “Preacher,” a young Billy Graham. That he was a driven evangelist was no secret and though he was smitten with Ruth, she had a decision to make. To marry him was to leave her dream for the mission field behind and join him in his crusade.

After much prayer, that is exactly what she did.

While her husband travelled and became a public figure, Ruth largely and happily stayed put. She raised their growing family with love, laughter, and spunk in the Appalachian Mountains and focused on ministry closer to home. Her heart for the forgotten- convicts, troubled teens, and drug addicts- and the message she spread on a smaller scale made an impact on many lives. She also wrote and co-authored 14 books and wrote plenty of poetry.


In her spare time, she could be found among her 14 translations of the Word and on her knees talking to God, her closest companion.

“It was her love for the Lord Jesus, with whom she walks every day, that made me want to love Him and walk with Him like that,” daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, has said.
Of course, having married “America’s Pastor,” Ruth partnered in his ministry in her own way- from clipping newspaper and magazine articles for sermon ideas to editing his books- and was her husband’s closest advisor and confidant.

“When it comes to spiritual things, my wife has had the greatest influence on my ministry,” remembered Graham.


She may have rarely stepped in front of a crowd, but she humbly inspired many throughout her life. Taken from a road sign she once spotted, Ruth’s character is reflected in the words she chose to be remembered by on her epitaph: “End of Construction: Thank You for Your Patience.”

What do you think you would want your epitaph to say?  Or, have you ever tried to write a 6 word memoir?  Leave your best shot in the comments.  Hayley’s favorite wins a $10 Amazon gift card!  Contest closes at 11:5pm on Sunday, April 1st!


Natalie Soldano is a freelance writer who earned her Creative Writing degree from the University of Washingon, beginning by creating stories on the family typewriter and submitting them to her first editor- her mother. In the rare moments she is not writing, she can be found devouring whatever book is in front of her, on the hunt for a great cup of coffee, or trying not to burn dinner. She would be in a musical if anyone would let her. Her passion for Christ and heart for encouraging young women in their faith often go hand-in-hand. She lives with her husband and five chickens in Seattle. Natalie can be found blogging at This Chickadee and on Twitter.

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  • Reply Lucy, you have some esplainin’ to do… « thischickadee March 30, 2012 at 9:49 am

    […] you over to The Tiny Twig for a look into the life of a woman who would never have deserted you, Ruth Bell Graham.  Honestly, she was such a delight to learn and write about and I want to be just like her when I […]

  • Reply Lisa-Jo@thegypsymama March 30, 2012 at 10:48 am

    A lifetime of homesickness ends today.

  • Reply Melissa Daly March 30, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Wow! Lisa-Jo, amazing! Can’t top that. : ) I will try…
    “Lived a life, blessed and loved.”

    • Reply Lisa-Jo@thegypsymama March 30, 2012 at 11:00 am

      This gypsy mama hates homesickness more than most other things :) And after decades of living between countries and always away from one family the only way I help my kids process it themselves is to see it as a flashing neon sign saying, “You’re not home yet.” :)

  • Reply Linds March 30, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    I can only come up with 5 – “Throughout it all, she smiled”

  • Reply Amanda March 30, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Loved life, lived with love

  • Reply Heather March 30, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    She never stopped dreaming big.

  • Reply Brenna D'Ambrosio March 30, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Kept going even in the darkness

  • Reply caroline March 30, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    lived life with an eternal hope

  • Reply Michelle (michabella) March 30, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    This was beautiful. Mine would be… “Life is full of beautiful moments”

  • Reply McCall March 30, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Made lemonade out of life’s lemons.

  • Reply Charis Brookshire March 30, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Was happiest when all were smiling.

  • Reply karin hope March 30, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    caring, hopeful, and now with worth

  • Reply Robyn Thimsen March 30, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    Oh Lord, just five more minutes!

  • Reply Kristina March 30, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    She finally gets to see Him.

  • Reply Cheisty March 30, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    Purposefully and passionately lived for Christ.

  • Reply Kelli March 30, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    Dust to Dust: Heaven or Bust!

  • Reply Maritza McKinney April 1, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    She made her home a slice of heaven, waiting for a slice of heaven to be her home. (Thanks for asking such a great question!)

  • Reply Jenny Miller April 3, 2012 at 1:46 am

    I’m thinking about that one. My family would probably say “silent, but not forgotten”! I spoke with Ruth several times. She used to come into the the bookstore I worked at. She was such as small, frail looking woman, but once you talked with her, you could see her mighty, indomitable spirit. She was a beautiful woman, inside and out.

    • Reply Tiny Twig April 3, 2012 at 10:10 pm

      i’m 100% jealous of you. what an amazing opportunity. we lived in Charlotte when she passed away and it was beautiful to see how the family and city mourned her passing–but saw the joy in it, too.

      • Reply Jenny Miller April 4, 2012 at 3:20 pm

        We live near Asheville, not too far from the Graham’s home. I am so glad I got to meet her! An unforgettable experience.

  • Reply eileen marie April 4, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    I know the contest is over, but I have always love this one:
    “I TOLD you I was sick!” ;)

  • Reply Be You: That’s Who This World Needs August 29, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    […] Ruth Bell Graham (from The Tiny Twig) and/or Ruth Bell Graham (Biography) […]

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