Billy Graham hospitalized with respiratory ailment

tfunk@charlotteobserver.comNovember 20, 2013 

BILLY_BIRTHDAY

In a photo taken from a television monitor, Billy Graham arrives in the ballroom at the Grove Park Inn for a celebration of his 95th birthday in Asheville.

TODD SUMLIN — tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com Buy Photo

Two weeks after celebrating his 95th birthday, Billy Graham is back in the hospital for treatment of respiratory problems.

The Charlotte-born evangelist, who lives in Montreat, was taken to Mission Hospital in Asheville on Tuesday.

“Mr. Graham is in the hospital with a respiratory congestion issue, similar to what he had a few weeks ago,” Graham’s spokesman, Mark DeMoss, said in a Wednesday statement. “As was the case then, we expect he will be able to return home in a day or two.”

Graham’s son, Franklin, who runs the Charlotte-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, is in Thailand this week to headline a festival, or crusade. He is not altering his plans, DeMoss said.

The elder Graham was last admitted to the hospital on Oct. 22 for a precautionary pulmonary test. He was back at home by Oct. 24.

Graham was also admitted to Mission Hospital in May 2011 with an illness diagnosed as pneumonia and in August 2012 with bronchitis.

In interviews, Franklin Graham and his sister Anne Graham Lotz, both evangelists like their father, have said Billy Graham has physical maladies common to people of his advanced age. He is frail, cannot hear or see well, and arrives at his rare public appearances in a wheelchair. But they have said his mind is still sharp.

Graham’s 95th birthday party, held Nov. 7 at the Omni Grove Park Inn, drew more than 800 people, including several celebrities. Among them: former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, real estate tycoon Donald Trump, TV host Kathie Lee Gifford, pastor-author Rick Warren, musician Ricky Skaggs and media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

In connection with his 95th birthday, the one-time pastor to presidents and globe-trotting evangelist also offered what could be his final public message in a 28-minute video.

In “The Cross” video, Graham called for a new spiritual awakening in America. The video has now been shown on the Fox News network, on about 500 local TV stations and in the homes of members of more than 25,000 churches around the country.

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