Governor John Bel Edwards released a statement Wednesday following the passing of the Rev. Billy Graham.
“Donna and I count ourselves among the millions whose lives were touched by the teachings of Rev.
Billy Graham, and we send our deepest condolences to his family. He was loved by those of many different faiths. Rev. Graham lived what he preached as evidenced by his global influence as a faith leader and his passion for evangelizing to people everywhere. He certainly had a special place in his heart for Louisiana as his legacy of prison ministry was actively involved in helping to reform the lives of those who as he put it had lost their way at Angola prison. Always working toward creating a more just and united society, Rev. Graham adhered to his calling of spreading the love and forgiveness of Christ. We join our prayers to those of so many Louisianans for the family of Rev. Graham as they celebrate his life and the impact of his preaching that will be remembered for years to come.”
Rev. Billy Graham and his family have actively supported prison ministry work at Angola prison for many years, funding the construction of a chapel in Ruth Graham’s name in 2006 and an additional chapel through the work of Rev. Franklin Graham’s ministry the Samaritan’s Purse International in 2009.
Department of Corrections Secretary Jimmy Leblanc said, “We are saddened of the news of the death of Reverend Billy Graham. Rev. Graham was a true friend of the Louisiana Department of Corrections, and added tremendously to the morale rehabilitation efforts at Louisiana State Penitentiary. Over the years his association made donations toward the construction of several of the chapels at Angola. He was a firm believer in the redemption of the incarcerated, and he was a great supporter of changing hearts and minds for the best. Over the years, two of Rev. Graham’s children, Franklin and Ruth visited the prison to conduct services in the prison chapels. Our sympathies are with his family.”
Taken with the beauty and simplicity of the caskets constructed by inmates at the Angola prison during a visit in 2005, Rev. Franklin Graham requested the construction of a casket for each of his parents. In 2007, Ruth Graham was buried in one of the caskets commissioned by her son from Angola.