"America's Beloved Gospel Singer" Dies at Age 104

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by Morgan Fogarty
Bio | Email | Follow: @morganfogarty by Photographer Adam Stevens
by Photographer Marvin Beach

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The booming baritone voice of George Beverly Shea, silenced.  The 104-year-old Grammy award winning gospel singer died Tuesday after a brief illness.  For more than 60 years, he performed with Billy Graham before an estimated 200 million people at the evangelist's crusades across the globe.

Graham released a statement about his friend, saying in part, "I have been listening to Bev Shea sing for more than 70 years and I would still rather hear him sing than anyone else I know.  Bev was one of the most humble and greatest Christians I have ever known.  He has set an example and has been a role model of what a Christian ought to be.  I have lost one of the best friends I ever had, but he and I look forward to seeing each other in Heaven relatively soon."

"I'm so grateful for his service, for his friendship to my family and the loyalty he had to my family," says Billy Graham's granddaughter, Cissie Graham Lynch.  She remembers "Uncle Bev" as a humble man with a great sense of humor.  "He and Cliff Barrows and my grandfather had a very special tradition of singing 'This Little Light of Mine' together," she says.

"He was just the most humble human being.  He, Cliff Barrows and Billy Graham, the three most humble men I have met in my life," says Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Chief of Staff Ken Barun.  "It's gonna be strange not having the three of them together now.  He called up Cliff and said Bev was the first one to beat them home," says Barun.

A public funeral service for Shea is this Sunday in Montreat, North Carolina.  It's at 3PM at Anderson Auditorium.  Doors will open at 1:45 PM.  A private burial service will be held at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte on Monday.

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