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Jean Graham Ford, Last Living Sibling of Billy Graham, Passes Away at 91

Jean Graham Ford
The Rev. Billy Graham, left, gets a hug from his youngest sister, Jean Graham Ford, after a groundbreaking ceremony for the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, Aug. 26, 2005. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Jean Graham Ford, the last living sibling of Billy Graham, has passed away at the age of 91, the family announced on Thursday, Feb. 29. 

Ford was Billy Graham’s youngest sibling, born on July 17, 1932, roughly 14 years after the famed evangelist. According to the family, Ford had a special relationship with her eldest brother, and she affectionately referred to him as “Billy Frank.” 

At the age of 11, Ford contracted polio, which almost claimed her life. 

“I do remember this very clearly,” Ford said in 2020. “If I died that night, at that age, that would not have bothered me so much because I knew then I was going to heaven.”

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Nevertheless, Ford did not die that night, and she eventually attended Wheaton College, where she met her husband, Leighton Ford, to whom she was married for 70 years. 

Throughout their marriage, the couple ministered together and also experienced their share of tragedy. In 1981, their oldest son, Sandy, died from a rare heart condition at the age of 21. Nevertheless, they remained strong in their faith.

“Without seeming to be pious,” Ford said in 2010, “God’s Word is really what got us through—depending on what he said and who he was in the Scriptures, even when we weren’t feeling that way.”

When Billy Graham died in 2018, Ford encouraged attendees of his funeral service about the hope of heaven. 

“On Feb. 21, heaven came down and took my brother from me,” she said. “One day, heaven will come down and take me. And I know what [my brother] would want me to say today is, ‘Heaven is coming again and would like to take you also.’”

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Evangelist Franklin Graham, who is Ford’s nephew and Billy Graham’s son, offered a tribute to his late aunt on social media on Thursday.