The people of the Town of Montreat are saddened at the passing of Montreat’s most notable resident, Rev. Billy Graham. The end of a legacy is at hand. He has been a quiet but special resident of Montreat since his marriage to Ruth Bell Graham in 1943.
The Town is honored to have been actively involved and included in many of the details pertaining to his death. Mayor Tim Helms and wife, Mimi, were invited by the Graham family to represent the Town of Montreat as the casket bearing the body of Billy Graham was moved from the Cove to the waiting hearse on Saturday. The Helms, along with the Mayor of Black Mountain, Don Collins, and his wife and the Buncombe County Sheriff, Van Duncan, and his wife were positioned next to the hearse. The pallbearers carrying the casket were surrounded by the Graham family and longtime staff members. Mayor Helms reported that Franklin Graham, Billy’s son, greeted them and thanked them for attending.
Additionally, Mayor and Mrs. Helms were invited to represent the Town of Montreat at the funeral on Friday, March 2, at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, NC. Invitations were extended to 2,300 people, including the current and past U.S. Presidents.
In tribute to the Town, the Montreat Police Department was asked to join with other law enforcement agencies in offering a security detail for the motorcade that traveled through Black Mountain on Saturday. Five Montreat officers served the motorcade, which left the Cove Saturday and traveled on Highway 70 through Swannanoa and Black Mountain. The streets were lined with thousands of mourners, many from the local area as well as from afar.
Individuals have come to Montreat to provide expressions of gratitude and condolence, placing them on the hill next to the Montreat Gate. The flowers in the small but colorful display reflect the sentiments of many Montreaters.