Job of Making Billy Graham's Casket Fell to Inmates

Evangelist's family had requested his final resting vessel years ago from La. prisoners
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 22, 2018 11:21 AM CST
In this March 12, 2006, file photo, the Rev. Billy Graham, right, and his son Franklin Graham wait for the start of a service in New Orleans.   (AP Photo/Bill Haber, File)

(Newser) – Billy Graham died on Feb. 21, 2018, but his casket has been waiting for him since 2006. WAFB reports that a final resting vessel was commissioned long ago for the renowned evangelist, with a request it be built by the inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, aka Angola. The Advocate notes Graham's son Franklin was the one who originally saw the funerary handiwork of Angola's prisoners (they made coffins for fellow inmates) when he visited the prison in the early 2000s and asked that coffins be made for both of his parents, according to Burl Cain, the former warden at the facility. A Louisiana Department of Corrections spokesperson confirms that Billy Graham's wife, Ruth, was buried in an Angola casket after she died in June 2007.

Plain wood coffins with interior liners made out of Walmart comforters may not be what catches the eye of most casket shoppers, but that spartan design is what attracted Franklin Graham to them, Cain notes. He adds the Graham family also asked that all of the inmates who toiled away on the coffins' construction have their names burned into the wood. Cain notes the Graham family made a big impact on the prisoners at his former place of employ, donating funds to build a couple of chapels there and coming to Angola to preach to its residents. "The place was blessed because of them," Cain says. KATC reports Billy Graham will be laid to rest March 2 at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, NC.

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