Ruth Bell Graham, the wife of world-renowned evangelist Billy Graham, died Thursday evening. Billy Graham and their five children were by her side.
Ruth Graham, who celebrated her 87th birthday on Sunday, battled degenerative osteoarthritis of the back and neck for many years and recently was treated for pneumonia, the Associated Press reported.
"I am so grateful to the Lord that He gave me Ruth, and especially for these last few years we've had in the mountains together," Billy Graham said in a written statement. "We've rekindled the romance of our youth, and my love for her continued to grow deeper every day. I will miss her terribly, and look forward even more to the day I can join her in Heaven."
In a written statement released Wednesday, Billy Graham said that both he and Ruth Graham had made the decision to be buried beside one another at the Billy Graham Library in his hometown of Charlotte, N.C. A public memorial service will be held at the Montreat Conference Center in North Carolina on Saturday at 2 p.m.