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10 things you didn't know about Billy Graham as a kid

4. Billy Graham was a prankster at school

When you’re deep in the trenches of parenting, there’s nothing more encouraging than learning about a really average kid who grew up to be a really exceptional adult.


Such stories stir hope in the soul of the parent who is wiping their child’s snotty nose for the seventeenth time that day. They speak of a better day to those silently crying out for patience as their offspring struggles through a home-reader. They whisper “Try again!” to the weary parent with a solid history of failed family devotions.

This week, as Christians across the earth reflect upon the ministry of Billy Graham – whom most parents would agree turned out quite well – Eternity News is pleased to contribute 10 things you may not know about Billy Graham the child, in the hope that it may be an encouragement to parents everywhere.

Here’s to all those parents who’ve been the butt of their beloved offspring’s joke at any stage in the past ninety-odd years.

1. Billy Graham’s mum’s name was Morrow. And since she clearly did a good job, let’s refer to her as ‘Good Morrow’ from now on. Together with husband Frank, Good Morrow ran a tight ship. They managed family devotions every night, insisted that the kids learn a bible verse each day, and kept Sundays work, TV, newspaper and game-playing free.

This is not the encouraging bit, but it is interesting, right? And with a name like Good Morrow, how could any mum go wrong?

2. As a 5 year old, Billy Graham attended a meeting where evangelist Billy Sunday – the evangelist who preached to more Americans than anyone else before Graham – was preaching. Billy Graham’s fidgeting and noisiness was infuriating enough to have caused his father Frank to warn him that if he didn’t quieten down, Billy Sunday would call his name from the platform.

This is good news for those parents who’ve done their fair share of shooshing kids in church and who may or may not have stretched the truth in the attempt to achieve their silence.

3. Billy Graham was a bit of a klutz as a child, and was always knocking things over. On one occasion he managed to knock a whole bureau chest down a flight of stairs, which is impressive by any klutz’s standards. Good Morrow is quoted to have said, “He was always tumbling over something. I was relieved when he started school.”

And all the parents of unco kids said? Amen.

4. Billy Graham was a prankster at school. He once set a wastepaper basket alight and called ‘Fire!’ before proceeding to jump out a first floor window. Another time he filled his baseball coach’s jacket pockets with old chicken bones and crumbled biscuits, the motivation for which is unclear but we get the point.

Here’s to all those parents who’ve been the butt of their beloved offspring’s joke at any stage in the past ninety-odd years.

Somehow it seems reassuring to know that exams have always been difficult, even for Billy Graham.

5. Billy Graham was no great achiever at school. He failed French. He had trouble memorising poetry. He had to retake an exam in grade 11 so that he didn’t fail the entire year.

This one goes out to all our readers who have children doing NAPLAN and the HSC. Somehow it seems reassuring to know that exams have always been difficult, even for Billy Graham.

6. Billy Graham had a brilliant imagination and loved role-playing with his siblings. Tarzan was a favourite.

God bless all those who are raising kids with their heads in the clouds, or who exhibit Neanderthal tendencies. 

7. Billy Graham got lost in the books and reportedly curled up for hours in haylofts or on the family room floor devouring whatever volume he could find. He’d read almost 100 books by 15 years of age.

This is for all those parents whose kids have tried using the ‘Premier’s Reading Challenge’ as an excuse for not emptying the dishwasher.

8. Like many kids, Billy Graham dreamed of a career as a professional athlete. Baseball was his sport of choice, and though he was apparently not a great hitter, he did play first base on his high school team for a bit, and a few innings with a semi-pro team. He even shook Babe Ruth’s hand once when the star was in Charlotte.

Shout out to all the parents forgoing a Saturday sleep in to take their kid to Saturday sport that probably won’t ever become a career.

9. As a teenager, Billy Graham loved the ladies. He was good looking, charming and a bit of a ‘snappy dresser’ so he did alright. His sister Catherine said “He was in love with a different girl every day. He really did like the girls. And they liked him.” The good news is that even though he was fond of a good pash he thanked God that he “never touched a girl in the wrong way,” because “I was just held back by a force that I don’t understand.”

Great news for those parents with young Casanovas. May the Holy Spirit’s sex-stopping power be your portion, too.

10. Young Billy Graham had a sense of being called to big things. He spent hours looking at a photo in a book that Good Morrow had given him of a rose window depicting creation that’s in the 13th Century Cathedral of Rheims in France. He immersed himself in the photo and the sense that something big was going to happen in his life.

Here’s to the parents who are raising dreamers in a world that needs them. We salute you. Keep up the good work. Who knows what your little tacker may achieve one day?