FRESNO, Calif. - Bulldog Stadium is one of many worldwide Billy Graham filled with thousands of followers of his crusades. Many local leaders and pastors said Graham's character and dedicated spirituality shaped the Central Valley and their own lives.
An evangelical legend and one of the most beloved religious leaders in the world.
The revered reverend led evangelical crusades across 185 countries including one in Fresno just over a month after the 9/11 attacks. The event filled Bulldog Stadium and surrounding streets with over 40,000 people -- 15,000 of them committing to Christ.
"A tremendous healing and a feeling of joy. A feeling of purpose," said Former City of Fresno Mayor Alan Autry.
He said he was struck by Graham's presence calling him a humble spiritual leader.
"He had a way of getting to you where you needed to be. Billy coined the phrase 'Look I'm just an old sinner saved by grace' and he was that every moment he's with you. That was apparent," said Autry.
Pastor Larry Powell with Peoples Church, one of the sponsors of Graham's 2001 crusade, said his character was unparalleled.
"There are certain people in life you know there's nothing else going on and he had that impact in a global sense. His message was simplistic. Get your life together. You need to know the Lord," he said.
Powell said Graham's teaching is universal.
"It helped me understand what we need to be doing. We need to be connecting people to the Lord and connecting people to people," he said.