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  • Family members look on as the body of Rev. Billy Graham is carried to the hearse to leave the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018 in Asheville, N.C. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek, Pool)

  • Pall bearers carry the casket carrying the body of Billy Graham past family member to the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

  • FILE - In this April 10, 2006 file photo, Evangelist Billy Graham, foreground left, is applauded by former first lady Barbara Bush and former President George Bush after receiving the 2006 George Bush Award for Excellence in Public Service at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. (Butch Ireland/College Station Eagle via AP, File)

  • Rose Salazar of Cornelius, N.C. waits for the motorcade carrying the body of the late Rev. Billy Graham to proceed through uptown Charlotte, N.C. on the way to the Billy Graham Library on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. (David T. Foster III/The Charlotte Observer via AP)

  • FILE - In this March 12, 1955 file photo, the Rev. Billy Graham stands with his wife Ruth Graham as he waves from the liner Liberte in New York, before departing on a European preaching tour.  (AP Photo, File)

  • The hearse carrying the body of Billy Graham arrives at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018.  (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

  • Mourners view the motorcade carrying Rev. Billy Graham through a window to in Black Mountain, N.C., on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. Lyons traveled from Muldoon, Texas.  (John D. Simmons/The Charlotte Observer via AP)

  • FILE - In this June 25, 2005 file photo, former President Bill Clinton, left, speaks alongside the Rev. Billy Graham on the second night of the Greater New York Billy Graham Crusade at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in the Queens borough of New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

  • FILE - In this Oct. 24, 1976 file photo, Evangelist Billy Graham, 57, of Montreat, N.C., holds his bible while gesturing during the final service of the 10-day Southeastern Michigan Crusade at Pontiac Stadium, in Pontiac, Mich.  (AP Photo/Richard Scheinwald, File)

  • Pall bearers carry the casket with the body of Billy Graham past family members to the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018.  (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

  • The Billy Graham procession drives south on U.S. 321 near Dallas. N.C. as it passes through Gaston County on it's way to Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C. Saturday Feb. 24, 2018. (John Clark/The Gaston Gazette via AP)

  • People line the street to pay respects as the hearse carrying the body of Rev. Billy Graham travels through Black Mountain, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek, Pool)

  • Observers watch from Morehead Street as the motorcade carrying the body of the late Rev. Billy Graham passes beneath them through uptown Charlotte, N.C. on the way to the Billy Graham Library on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. (David T. Foster III/The Charlotte Observer via AP)

  • FILE - In this Dec. 20, 2010 file photo, evangelist Billy Graham, 92, speaks during an interview at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association headquarters in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond, File)

  • FILE - In this June 27, 1954 file photo, Evangelist Billy Graham speaks to over 100,000 Berliners at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, Germany. (AP Photo/Werner Kreusch, File)

  • FILE - In this May 20, 1985 file photo, Rev. Billy Graham sings a hymn as he stands on the stage at the Hartford Civic Center in Conn. (AP Photo/Bob Child, File)

  • Pall bearers carry the casket containing the body of Billy Graham toward his birthplace home at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

  • Mourners line Hwy 70 through Black Mountain, N.C. as the motorcade carrying Rev. Billy Graham passes by, on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. (John D. Simmons/The Charlotte Observer via AP)

  • Ann Lyons waits for the motorcade carrying Rev. Billy Graham to pass by in Black Mountain, N.C., on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018.(John D. Simmons/The Charlotte Observer via AP)

  • People line the street as the hearse carrying the body of Rev. Billy Graham leaves the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018 in Asheville, N.C. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek, Pool)

  • Pallbearers carry the body of Rev. Billy Graham into a hearse before leaving the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018 in Asheville, N.C. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek, Pool)

  • FILE - In this May 9, 2003 file photo, the Rev. Billy Graham quiets the crowd during the second day of his Mission San Diego revival at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy, File)

  • The Billy Graham procession drives south on U.S. 321 near Dallas. N.C. as it passes through Gaston County on it's way to Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C. Saturday Feb. 24, 2018. (John Clark/The Gaston Gazette via AP)

  • Visitors leave the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018.  (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Sunday, February 25, 2018 2:10 pm

Billy Graham's body arrives at namesake library

ALLEN G. BREED | Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Admirers took photos on their phones, fire trucks parked on freeway overpasses and police officers saluted as a motorcade carrying the body of the Rev. Billy Graham crossed the evangelist's beloved home state of North Carolina for four hours Saturday from his mountain chapel to namesake library in the state's largest city.

Residents in some of Graham's most cherished places paid tribute to "America's Pastor," starting at the training center operated by his evangelistic association in Asheville. The motorcade rolled through Black Mountain, where he shopped and caught trains, and Montreat, where he lived.

Well-wishers lined sidewalks and medians as the motorcade reached Charlotte. Pallbearers, followed by family, carried the coffin into the Billy Graham Library, which will serve as a backdrop for the funeral.

Franklin Graham said he was fulfilling a promise to his father to bring the body to Charlotte. He said he was overwhelmed by "the outpouring of love."

Leighton Ford, the evangelist's brother-in-law, said the procession brought gratitude and tinge of sadness.

"I think he'd say, 'It's not about me. It's about the Lord,'" said Ford. "I remember at his last stadium meeting here in Charlotte, the mayor of Charlotte told us he was riding out on the platform with Billy, and everybody was cheering, and Billy said, 'Wait a minute. It's not about us. It's about Him.'"

Graham, who died Wednesday at his home in North Carolina's mountains at age 99, reached hundreds of millions of listeners around the world with his rallies and his pioneering use of television.

A viewing will be held at the library in Charlotte on Monday and Tuesday. Graham will also lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday and Thursday, the first time a private citizen has been accorded such recognition since civil rights hero Rosa Parks in 2005.

The procession was part of more than a week of mourning that culminates with his burial Friday.

Adults and children stood behind wooden barricades and yellow tape along a route that included parts of Interstate 40. A man played bagpipes at a highway rest area near Marion, where an overpass was draped with flags from about 15 nations. In Black Mountain, a group sang "Amazing Grace."

"He has never really reveled in all of the celebrity. It's come with the territory," said Joe Tyson, a family friend who runs a furniture store in Black Mountain, where he watched the procession.

The library in Charlotte was closed but admirers came to watch and lay flowers.

"He was so bold, he so boldly confessed the word of God," said Madeline Reid. "And I believe because of his service to humanity, that he's truly gonna be great in the kingdom of heaven."

Ruby Sparks, 85, attended a Graham youth ministry meeting in 1951, when she was a college student in Greensboro, North Carolina, and met him in 1970.

"He was such a wonderful man of God, and a messenger of God," she said.

Asked if there would ever be another force like his, she replied: "I doubt it. Perhaps, in my next, in another lifetime. Not in my lifetime."

Graham will be laid to rest at the foot of a cross-shaped walkway at the library, buried in a simple prison-made plywood coffin next to his wife, Ruth, who died in 2007. His coffin was built by inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana, who typically construct caskets for fellow prisoners who cannot afford one.

The funeral will be held in a tent in the main parking lot of Graham's library in tribute to the 1949 Los Angeles tent revivals that propelled him to international fame, family spokesman Mark DeMoss said. About 2,000 people are expected at the private, invitation-only funeral.

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This story has been edited to correct the quote from Ford.

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Associated Press writers Elliot Spagat in San Diego and Tom Foreman Jr. in Charlotte contributed to this report.