Jean Graham Ford, sister of the late Rev. Billy Graham, dies at 91

CHARLOTTE, NC — Jean Graham Ford, wife of evangelist Dr. Leighton Ford and younger sister of the late Rev. Billy Graham, died at Carolinas Medical Center Thursday morning, Feb. 29, at the age of 91.

Jean Graham Ford, wife of evangelist Dr. Leighton Ford and younger sister of the late Rev. Billy Graham, died this Feb. 29, at the age of 91
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Jean spent her childhood in Charlotte on the Graham dairy farm, located a few miles from the current location of the Billy Graham Library. Jean would follow her brother’s footsteps and attend Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. It was there that she met her husband of 70 years, Leighton Ford. They served in ministry together with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, where Leighton was an Associate Evangelist and Vice President from 1955 to 1986. He later founded Leighton Ford Ministries, which focuses on training and mentoring young leaders in evangelism.

Jean attended Myers Park Presbyterian Church and was active as a women’s Bible Study leader. She also served on the board for Women of Vision, a volunteer movement of World Vision, and traveled the world with her husband through his evangelistic work.

See Photo Gallery of Jean Graham Ford

“Our family was saddened to learn that my father’s only remaining sibling, Jean Graham Ford, passed away this morning,” said Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. “My Aunt Jean loved the Lord Jesus Christ, her family, her church and the work of God’s people around the world. She, along with her husband Dr. Leighton Ford, was always a great encourager to my father throughout his entire ministry. He sought her counsel on many issues during his lifetime. We will miss her in this life but look forward to eternity together in the presence of our Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord.”

In his autobiography, Just As I Am, Billy Graham reflected adoringly on his sister Jean. Though 14 years apart in age, she made an impression on her older brother when she was just four-years-old: “Daddy did something unusual: he encouraged little Jean (who was four) to get up on the table in front of the guests and ‘preach’ to them,” said Graham. “I guess you could say she was the first preacher in our family.”

Jean herself shared these words at her late brother’s funeral: “I was reminded when I heard that my brother had died of the song that the choirs used to sing, ‘Heaven Came Down and Filled My Soul with Glory.’ On February the 21st Heaven came down and took my brother from me. One day, Heaven will come down and take me, and I know what he would want me to say today is Heaven is coming again and would like to take you also.”

The youngest of four children of the late Frank and Morrow Graham, Ford is survived by her husband, Dr. Leighton Ford, and their children, Kevin Ford and Debbie Gourley, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents and siblings, Melvin (2003), Catherine McElroy (2006), and Billy (2018), and by a son, Sandy (1981).

GPS: God. People. Stories. Billy Graham’s Sister: ‘I’ve Always Just Adored Him’

About the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) proclaims the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ throughout the world by every effective means available. From its headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, the BGEA directs a wide range of domestic and international ministries, including: large-scale festivals led by evangelists Franklin Graham and Will Graham; the Billy Graham Library; The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, located outside of Asheville, North Carolina;, an Internet evangelism project reaching thousands of people for Christ online; and many others through print, television, telephone, radio and the Internet. For more information, please visit Get news updates on Twitter at

Media Contact: Lisa Moseley,

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