Rev. Billy Graham died Wednesday at 99-years-old and despite his fame and profound impact, he may be buried in a simple plywood coffin built by some unexpected craftsmen.
Graham, a famed evangelist who met with at least a dozen presidents and preached to millions of people, is to be buried in a coffin built by prisoners.
Convicted murderer Richard Liggett led a team of prisoners at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in building caskets for both Graham and his wife Ruth, the Associated Press reported in 2007. Ruth Graham died in June 2007 at age 87.
Liggett, who died in March 2007, was serving a life-sentence for murder and said he had found God while in prison. He had built the coffins for fellow prisoners before crafting a set for the Grahams, the AP reports.
The coffins were made of birch plywood and were lined with mattress pads covered by fabric. They were adorned with brass handles and a cross on top and cost $215, according to reports.
Graham’s son, Franklin Graham, purchased the coffins after seeing them and admiring their simplicity during a visit to the prison, which is located in Angola, Louisiana.
The coffin represents a “beautiful way in death that we would see this marvelous picture of forgiveness” Graham had for people, said Dan DeWitt, director of the Center for Biblical Apologetics and Public Christianity at Cedarville University.
The prisoners are known to have built a coffin for only one other person.
FIRST REPORT: Evangelist Billy Graham dies at 99
Awana Clubs International ministry co-founder Art Rorheim was buried in one earlier this year, said his granddaughter Kim Ahlgrim, director of The Cove at Cedarville University. Rorheim, 99, died in January, according to his obituary.
Ahlgrim called the casket “a beautifacl act of love from these men who had appreciation for him.”
“Our understanding is they’ve only done it twice,” Ahlgrim said. “They built a casket for my grandfather and a casket for Billy Graham (and his wife).”