Special to the Banner
Cleveland extended Billy Graham Avenue on Tuesday, to honor one of its most famous students on his 99th birthday.In 2004, the city renamed a portion of 15th Street between North Ocoee Street and …
Cleveland extended Billy Graham Avenue on Tuesday, to honor one of its most famous students on his 99th birthday.
In 2004, the city renamed a portion of 15th Street between North Ocoee Street and Parker Street for the Rev. Graham. In 1936, the famed evangelist enrolled at what was then Bob Jones University in Cleveland.
The Billy Graham Avenue extension picks up at Parker Street and continues to People Street, completing its route through the Lee Campus.
The street sign unveiling Tuesday was relayed live via Skype from Cleveland to Montreat, N.C., where the Graham family, including the honoree, watched. Mayor Tom Rowland began the broadcast at 11 a.m.
“Good morning Mr. Graham, Franklin, Will, Gigi and everyone in Montreat N.C. Greetings from Cleveland," said the city's longtime mayor. "The City Council has extended Billy Graham Avenue, dedicated in 2014, to go through the entire campus of Lee University.”
The mayor introduced the Rev. Jay McCluskey, senior pastor at North Cleveland Baptist Church, to lead a dedicatory prayer.
“What an honor,” McCluskey told Graham through Skype. “When I was a young boy in the late 60s, I went around the golf course with my dad in Black Mountain, N.C., and we met Billy Graham. Now five decades later I’m helping celebrate your 99th birthday. It’s a deep, deep honor.”
McCluskey said he attended Graham’s Knoxville Crusade at Neyland Stadium in 1970, and described “what a blessing that was.”
In his prayer, McCluskey noted “... roads are designed to take us somewhere, and throughout this life you have blessed Billy Graham to point the road to the Heavenly Father; a road that goes by the foot of the Cross, makes a brief stop at the tomb and ascends to that place in eternity where the roads are made of gold ...”
Mayor Rowland introduced City Councilmen Bill Estes, Tom Cassada and Charlie McKenzie.
The mayor told Graham he is now an honorary Cleveland citizen.
Rowland also introduced state Rep. Kevin Brooks.
Brooks told Graham it was a great honor to speak to him.
“My grandmother told everyone she met that her grandson lived in the same dormitory where Billy Graham lived in Cleveland,” Brooks said. “It’s an honor to follow in your footsteps.”
Mayor Rowland told Graham he also attended a Knoxville crusade, as well as one at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
“Thank you for all the lives you have changed” Rowland told Graham. He also invited the Graham family to visit Cleveland again.
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