Danny Lotz, the son-in-law of evangelist Billy Graham, was a member of North Carolina’s undefeated national championship men’s basketball team in 1957, but he was remembered equally on Wednesday, the day he died, for his faith and for and positively affecting the lives of others. He was 78.
His widow, Anne Graham Lotz, announced Lotz’s death in a post on her website. She wrote that her husband “had moved to our Father’s House.”
Lotz’s death drew condolences from a wide spectrum. North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory in a statement described Lotz as a “North Carolina legend.” The UNC athletic department wrote that Lotz was “a true gentleman and beloved member of our Tar Heels family.”
During his years at UNC, Lotz, a native of Northport, N.Y., was a forward on the basketball team, then coached by Frank McGuire. Lotz was a sophomore when the Tar Heels completed a perfect season – 32-0 – with a 54-53 victory against Kansas in the 1957 NCAA tournament championship game.
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Lotz became a dentist after he graduated from UNC. He was known for his work with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and for teaching Bible study. He and Anne Graham Lotz were married for 49 years.
“He was more than a man’s man,” she wrote on her website Wednesday. “He was God’s man who triumphantly finished his race having fought the good fight, and having kept his faith firmly focused on the kingdom of God first.”
Anne Graham Lotz discovered her husband unresponsive in the pool in the backyard of their Raleigh home Monday. His heart had stopped, according to a statement from Rex Hospital.
Doctors determined Wednesday morning that Lotz could not be resuscitated, and he was taken off of life support. He died, according to the hospital’s statement, at 11:46 a.m. Wednesday, surrounded by family.
“Danny and his teammates permanently etched their names in the history books as members of the undefeated 1957 national champions, but his positive impact on people went far beyond basketball,” UNC’s athletic department said in a statement.
In the post on her website, Anne Graham Lotz wrote about the many health challenges her husband endured. When he was 50, Lotz developed adult diabetes. He lost sight in one eye and lost hearing in one ear.
Heart disease required five stents in his arteries and kidney failure meant three five-hour sessions of dialysis every week.
“And yet he never complained,” Anne Graham Lotz wrote. “(He) never slowed down, never gave up, never stopped investing in the lives of others.”