Jane Austin Cunningham Graham is Franklin Graham’s wife of 44 years. She is expected to be by Franklin’s side this afternoon as he eulogizes his father, the famed evangelist Billy Graham, who passed away in February at age 99. The private service is scheduled to begin at around noon outside Reverend Graham’s library in North Carolina. The service will take place under a tent designed to fit 2000 people, in an homage to Graham’s days as a young evangelical preacher.
“Graham, who died Feb. 21 at age 99, was honored this week in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. Thousands lined up to see his casket and Trump and other political leaders spoke at a memorial service for him. For Graham’s son Franklin, the Rotunda honoring of his father — a first for a religious leader — harkened back to an earlier era in America,” reports The Washington Post.
Several former presidents are expected to attend the service as well as President Trump and Vice President Pence, who are not expected to speak at the service. Franklin Graham and President Trump met privately over dinner so that Franklin could discuss his father’s legacy and Trump could learn more about him.
Franklin Graham appears to be stepping up to lead in his father’s absence, furthering his religious and philanthropic efforts and ever honoring evangelism, and his wife, Jane, is firmly by his side; his partner in life, his rock, and the mother of his children.
Who is Jane Graham?
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Jane & Franklin Were Married in 1974 & Have Four Children
Jane Austin Cunningham was born and raised in Smithfield, North Carolina. Franklin Graham says that Jane was a hometown girl and he first met her when she was just eight years old. Were they childhood sweethearts? That is not exactly clear. Franklin Graham once got himself into a little bit of trouble keeping a female coed out past her curfew, and the coed in question was not Jane.
In 1974, she and Franklin Graham were married North Carolina. They have four children; William Franklin “Will” Graham, IV born in 1975, Roy Austin Graham born in 1977, Edward Bell Graham, born in 1979, and Jane Austin “Cissie” Graham Lynch, born in 1986. Jane and Franklin decided to raise their family in Boone, North Carolina, a place where they frequently spent time when they were children.
Jane stayed home while Franklin traveled the world for awhile, knowing that he would eventually come back to her in Boone.
““It’s the only home my wife and I have ever owned. We were just kids when we first came up here to Boone,” he says. “I’ve lived all my life in Western North Carolina, and I can go anywhere in the world. But there’s something special when you land in Charlotte, and you see the mountains to the west,” Franklin explained.
2. Jane is Described as a Strong Woman With Great Faith
Franklin Graham appears to be a bit of an adrenaline junkie; he is a motorcyclist and a pilot. Jane is not described as someone to shy away from the fun.
“The first time she flew in a plane piloted by her husband, they crash-landed! Nevertheless, they stuck together through thick and thin for over four decades,” according to earnthenecklace.com. A great metaphor for her faith, passion for life and commitment to her husband, Jane did not let one crash landing scare her away. She stuck with Franklin through it all, and has been described as the glue that holds her family together.
Jane, born in 1950, is 67 years old, but is described as being as youthful as ever, and reportedly can still do handstands. She and Franklin have 11 grandchildren together and she loves spending time with them. Jane also frequently joins Franklin on the road, particularly if their destination is anywhere in close proximity to where her family lives.
3. Jane Was Very Close to Ruth Graham
Ruth Graham played an important role in raising Franklin and Jane’s children. Jane was often by herself while Franklin was on the road, and she had four small kids to look after. Ruth Graham, who of course was a highly experienced mother and grandmother, was delighted to help young Jane. Not only did she love her grandchildren, but she loved and cared for Jane, and the two developed a special bond and a close friendship.
“Raising four kids while her husband was away on tours wasn’t an easy task. According to Cissie Graham, her mother and grandmother (Billy Graham’s wife, Ruth) bonded over the fact that their husbands were away most of the time.
‘Their men were gone all the time,’ said Cissie, ‘If there was a snake in the yard, they had to kill it. Fear never ran through them.
Cissie said Jane and Ruth shared the same quirks and sweet sarcasm. They were always up for having fun and had a knack for adventure.
Ruth Graham’s passing in 2007 created a void that was felt by the entire family.”
4. Tough But Loving, Jane Was Known as The Town Mom
Occasionally, Franklin and Jane’s kids were brought along while Franklin was on the road. But, the majority of the time, while Franklin was on the road, Jane was alone with the kids. Ruth Graham stepped in to help when she could, but of course she could not be there all the time, and Jane insisted on learning how to manage the family on her own.
Cissie Graham stated that Jane kept the family grounded. She made sure the kids maintained a regular routine. Jane also made sure the children made it on time to every sporting event, music lesson, social event, and so forth. Jane made sure that the kids did their homework regularly, thoroughly and correctly. She was also a strict, but fair, disciplinarian. She didn’t have much tolerance for nonsense, but she was also loving, kind and supportive.
Cissie further stated that there were times when Jane would discipline children that were not her own. She always did so fairly and with respect, and never got out of line with another person’s child. This earned her the nickname “the Town Mom.” Everyone loved and respected her.
5. Cissie Graham Says That Her Mother, Jane, Made The Scriptures Real
“Most importantly,” she adds, “my mom made the Scriptures real. She would talk about real issues with us. She kept an open line of communication. She always wanted us to feel comfortable talking to her,” Cissie told billygraham.org.
“While Jane made sure her children understood the Scriptures and their importance, she made sure to be available to her children to talk about other issues that had less to do with religion and more to do with being a teenager. Jane was reportedly extremely approachable and easy to talk to, putting her children at ease. She made it okay for her kids to ask questions, even if they were tough questions that had to do with religion.
Ruth Bell Graham—Billy’s wife and Cissie’s grandmother—was her mom’s best friend. ‘She led mom to Christ,’ Cissie explains. ‘It was through my grandmother’s love and grace that my mom came to know the Lord.’
In fact, Ruth Bell Graham and Jane are very similar in personality when it came to having fun, in their sweet sarcasm and quirks, and the fact that they were always up for adventure, says Cissie.