- Billy Graham died Feb. 21 at his home in Montreat, North Carolina, at the age of 99.
- Kathie Lee Gifford is an evangelical Christian who often revered the late pastor.
- She paid tribute to Graham on Megyn Kelly Today after learning of Graham's passing.
The host revealed she had a joyous reaction to learning of Graham's passing because he had been dealing with several health struggles for years. "Thank you, Lord. Thank you," Gifford said were her first words.
According to the Associated Press, spokesman Mark DeMoss said Graham had long suffered from cancer, pneumonia and other ailments. "He had been lingering and languishing," Gifford told Kelly. She then shared how she had last seen the evangelical pastor at his 95th birthday party – four years ago – and that his appearance was "quite frail" even then. "I knew in my heart it would be the last time I'd see him," she added.
Gifford also revealed to Kelly, and in a separate Today segment, below, that her relationship with God was strengthened because of the Graham's televised broadcasts. "My entire family came through faith through Billy," Gifford said.
Graham built Evangelicalism into a force that rivaled liberal Protestantism and Roman Catholicism in the United States, the Associated Press reports. Several presidents have commended the influential pastor over the years, including Donald Trump who tweeted there was "nobody like him!" on Wednesday.
Gifford also continued to celebrate Graham's memory on Twitter. "Rejoicing with my precious friend, Billy Graham," she wrote. "Without a doubt, the finest man I ever knew. So grateful that I am among the millions that he led to faith in Jesus and the promise of eternal life.
In 2014, Gifford interviewed three of Graham's 19 grandchildren on Today after they compiled a book of letters that expressed different people's gratitude toward the famous preacher. "I think my whole life is a thank you letter to Billy," Gifford said.
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