MONTREAT, N.C. (WordNews.org) April 22, 2013 — Billy Graham Crusades soloist George Beverly Shea, evangelist Billy Graham’s right hand man for decades, was remembered the “praise on his lips, the song in his heart.”
Shea passed away April 16 at the age of 104. He was remembered during a public memorial Sunday at Anderson Auditorium in Montreat, N.C., that drew nearly 1,000 people.
“This man’s life can be summed up in a few simple phrases,” said Dr. David Bruce, who offered the Scripture reading and meditation during the service. “The twinkle in his eye, the praise on his lips, the song in his heart, the length of his days, and the joy of his Lord.”
He began as the soloist for Billy Graham Crusades in 1947 in Charlotte. He sang with Graham for nearly 60 years. until Graham’s final Crusade in 2005 in New York City. Still, Shea remained active with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), singing at Franklin Graham Festivals in Charleston, S.C. (2008), and Knoxville, Tenn. (2008); Will Graham Celebrations in Paducah, Ky. (2007), and Gastonia, N.C. (2006); and events at The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, N.C.
“For more than 70 years, I had the privilege of introducing ‘America’s Beloved Gospel Singer,’” said Cliff Barrows, long-time music director for Billy Graham Crusade. “And, oh, how the people would listen. Billy Graham said he’d rather hear Bev sing than anybody. So would we all.”
Barrows added, “We knew that whatever took place on the platform before Billy Graham spoke, in every city we visited, that Bev would be used by the Spirit of God to prepare the hearts of the people for the message and he would prepare Billy’s heart to preach that message.”
Shea was born on Feb. 1, 1909, in Winchester, Ontario, Canada. His father was a Wesleyan Methodist minister. He recorded more than 70 albums of sacred music. At age 23 he composed the music to one of his best known solos, “I’d Rather Have Jesus.”
Shea received a Grammy Award in 1965 (and was nominated for 10 Grammies), and was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Grammy organization in 2011. He was also a member of the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame and Religious Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
Shea will be laid to rest on the grounds of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte during a private ceremony today.