Ailing evangelist Billy Graham said Monday he and his wife Ruth are deciding together where they will be buried, an announcement apparently sparked by a recent report the family is feuding over the issue.
“That determination will not be made by our family, our organization or outsiders, but will be ours alone,” Graham, 88, said in a statement issued from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
Graham said he and Ruth Graham “have no disagreement about our future, for we know that after we each take our last breath on earth, we will be together in heaven. At our age, it won’t be long before we are in the presence of God for all eternity.”
Family spokesman Larry Ross said Graham was at the Mayo Clinic receiving the third in a series of three monthly treatments for macular degeneration, which has reduced his eyesight and ability to read.
The Washington Post reported last week that Ned Graham, the couple’s youngest son, opposes burying his parents on the grounds of a museum under construction in Charlotte. He and other members of the family prefer a site near the couple’s home in the mountains of western North Carolina.
The paper said evangelist Franklin Graham, 54, who has taken over leadership of the his father’s association, wants the graves to be at the Charlotte museum.
Billy Graham has been in frail health for years and suffers from Parkinson’s disease, among other ailments. Ruth Graham, 86, is bedridden with degeneration of the spine.
In his statement, Billy Graham said he supports the $25 million museum and library and looks forward to its opening in the spring. He also downplayed the reported rift between his children.
“I love all five of our wonderful children,” Graham said. “Through all the years in our discussions about religion, politics and domestic situations, there have been many opinions and often disagreements, but our family remains close and united in our deep faith in God.”
On the day the Post report was published, Franklin Graham said in his own statement that he did not intend to debate the issue publicly.
“I believe that the decision about where my parents will be buried should be made by them, and not by me, my siblings or any outsiders,” he said.
The Charlotte museum, near the headquarters of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, is designed to look like a dairy barn that might have existed on the farm where Graham grew up outside Charlotte.