Tag Archives: George Beverly Shea

My Fondest Memories of “Uncle Bev”

By Will Graham

This week we lost a dear friend and member of our organization, George Beverly Shea, whom I’ve had the great pleasure and honor of knowing my entire life.

“Uncle Bev” may not have been a relative, but I consider him a part of my family. He always treated me like a grandson. Of course, this humble man of God treated everyone with whom he interacted in his 104 years on this earth the same way and left us all better for knowing him.

Some of my fondest memories of “Uncle Bev” are of visiting him in his home, where he would play the organ and sing many of his favorite hymns for me. Those are memories that I’ll cherish and carry with me.

He was also so gracious to join me in two of my very first outreaches – in Gastonia, N.C., and Paducah, Ky. – as I was starting out as a young evangelist. To stand beside the man who paved the way for my grandfather through music for so many decades was extremely humbling. And just like with my grandfather and with my father, I had the privilege to sing with him the song, “This Little Light of Mine.” The Grahams are not known for their singing abilities, so Cliff Barrows and Bev Shea would sing the beautiful song and when it came to the part, “Hide it under a bushel?” I would then yell out “NO!” That was my only part, but what a joy and a tremendous memory.

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I ask you join me in praying for Bev’s wife, Karlene, his children, Ron and Elaine, and their families.

We’ll all miss him greatly, but can smile as we think of him sitting at our Savior’s feet singing “I’d Rather Have Jesus.”

Legend, George Beverly Shea, Dies at 104

George Beverly SheaGeorge Beverly Shea, 104, of Montreat, North Carolina, soloist of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), died last nigh following a brief illness.

Since George Beverly Shea first sang for Billy Graham in 1943 on the Chicago radio hymn program, “Songs in the Night,” Shea has faithfully carried the Gospel in song to every continent and every state in the Union. Graham’s senior by ten years, Shea devotedly preceded the evangelist in song in nearly every Crusade over the span of more than one-half century.

Shea was the recipient of ten Grammy nominations, a Grammy Award in 1965, and was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Grammy organization in 2011. He was also a member of the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame (1978), and was inducted into the Religious Broadcasting Hall of Fame in February 1996. Shea was also inducted into the inaugural class of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists’ “Hall of Faith” in 2008.

George Beverly Shea 2“I first met Bev Shea while in Chicago when he was on Moody Radio,” said Billy Graham. “As a young man starting my ministry, I asked Bev if he would join me. He said yes and for over 60 years we had the privilege of ministering together across the country and around the world. Bev was one of the most humble, gracious men I have ever known and one of my closest friends. I loved him as a brother. My prayer for his wife, Karlene, and his children, Ron and Elaine, is that God will strengthen them during this time.”

Born in Winchester, Ontario, Canada, where his father was a Wesleyan Methodist minister, Shea’s first public singing was in the choir of his father’s church. Between Crusade, radio, and television dates in many countries, he sang at hundreds of concerts and recorded more than 70 albums of sacred music. At age 23 he composed the music to one of his best known solos, “I’d Rather Have Jesus.”

“Even though Bev was 10 years older than my father, he never acted his age,” said Franklin Graham. “He was absolute fun to be with. Bev was one of the most gracious and unassuming men I have known. He was always encouraging and supportive, a man of deep faith and strong commitment to Jesus Christ.”

Shea is survived by his wife, Karlene, and his children from his first marriage, Ronald and Elaine. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Erma, who died in 1976.

Ron, born in 1948 in Chicago, graduated from Trinity International University in Deerfield, Ill., in 1971. For more than 30 years, Ron has been an associate in Crusade ministry through the BGEA, assisting in preparatory work for evangelistic crusades involving Mr. Graham and more recently for Franklin Graham’s ministry. He is married to the former Kathy Ford.

Click here to visit the George Beverly Shea memorial website, including an opportunity to share your thoughts and memories.

Watch here as long-time friends George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows reminisce while at The Cove in 2011.

George Beverly Shea Turns 104 Today!

Join us in wishing George Beverly Shea a happy 104th birthday! 

For the past 60+ years, Bev Shea and Cliff Barrows have been the core of the musical team for Rev. Billy Graham’s Crusade ministry.

“I’ve been listening to Bev Shea sing for more than 50 years, and I would still rather hear him sing than anyone else I know.” — Billy Graham

Grammy award winning Bev Shea, has made a handful of appearances alongside his good friend, Cliff Barrows, during  SeniorCelebrations here at The Cove over the last several years.

When the two old friends get together, tales will be told and songs will be sung.  It is a delight to witness their walk down memory lane!

Watch this never before seen footage of Bev Shea and Cliff Barrows as they reminisce and sing during a 2011 SeniorCelebration at The Cove.

Join Cliff Barrows and Friends at The Cove in an upcoming SeniorCelebration. Click here or call 1-800-950-2092 for more information and to register.

Bev Shea: 103 and Still Singing!

This week, on Feb. 1, our dear friend George Beverly Shea celebrates his 103rd birthday! He has accomplished so much in his lifetime, ministering alongside Billy Graham since the beginning. Just last year, he was honored with a GRAMMY® for Lifetime Achievement. He is such a friend to the ministry of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and The Cove.  In fact, he donated the organ currently in the Chatlos Memorial Chapel, and he joins us regularly for our Senior Celebration events. And, he’s still singing! Here’s video proof:



George Beverly Shea

In honor of Bev’s birthday, here’s an excerpt we found from his memoir Then Sings My Soul:

One morning not long ago Billy and I were out for a morning walk through the enchanting streets of Lyons, France.

“Billy, how long do you think I’m going to be able to keep up with you?” I asked.

He stopped and said apologetically, “I’m sorry, Bev, I didn’t realize I was walking so fast.”

“That’s not what I mean. How long do you think I’m going to be able to keep going in this work?”


“Why Bev,” he answered seriously, “I want you to sing for me all your life.”

“I’d like that,” I told him.

And I would. Singing is my life, and I hope that I can serve the Lord with my voice, in some way, for many years to come. Yet I realize that the day will dawn when it will be better for everyone if I do all my singing “down behind the barn,” where I first sang as a boy. If I feel that God wants me to stop I won’t resist Him for a moment. Not that I think that that time is imminent – for never in my life has God opened as many doors as He has in the past two or three years. Opportunities have come to me that I never expected; I am still awed by the responsibilities He has placed on my shoulders. Yet with the additional challenges, He has given new strength, new insight, new friends, and sustaining old friends.

Please join us in wishing Bev a happy birthday!