Word comes this morning about the death of renowned evangelist Billy Graham at the age of 99.
During the years when I actively participated in the annual professional meetings of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Society of Biblical Literature I was frequently asked if Florida College, Temple Terrace, FL, where I taught, was where Billy Graham went to college.
The answer was “Yes” and “No.” Graham attended Florida Bible Institute which was founded in 1940. The campus was already a historic location. In the pre-Depression years it had been the home of a well-known resort, including a hotel associated with the Palmer family of Chicago, and a beautiful golf course. I don’t know why, but Florida Bible Institute soon moved to New Port Richey, FL, and became known as Trinity College of Florida.
For a few years the property in Temple Terrace was unoccupied. During the War years the buildings were used to house soldiers from a nearby air base (where Busch Garden, Tampa, is now located). Florida Christian College (now Florida College) was founded as a private liberal arts college in 1946 on the same campus.
A few years ago several agencies interested in claiming an association with Billy Graham dedicated a little park on the banks of the Hillsborough River a few steps from Florida College in Temple Terrace. I thought some readers would enjoy seeing these photographs of the park. The marker is in the center of the photo.
Our next photo shows the marker and the Hillsborough River where, or near where, Graham is said to have practiced his early sermons.
For those who wish to read the marker I have included this close up. You may click on the photo for a larger image.
Even if one does not agree with Graham’s religious views, he/she must acknowledge the role he played in American religious life over the past four score years.