Family, friends gather Tuesday to remember Cliff Barrows

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The funeral for Cliff Barrows, a longtime friend of the Rev. Billy Graham, took place Tuesday morning at Calvary Church in south Charlotte.

Barrows died Nov. 15 after a brief illness at the age of 93 years old.

Barrows lead thousands in song and prayer as the music director for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). He met Graham in Asheville in 1945 and had no idea how long the friendship would last.

“I remember the day I said to him, ‘Bill as long as you want me I’ll be available to you to do whatever you want me to do,’” Barrows told Channel 9 during in an interview in 2005. “And he said, ‘Cliff let’s just pray the Lord will keep us together till we give out or he gives up on us or he takes us home.’”

Click to watch Billy Graham speak about Cliff Barrows:

Barrows was in Grand Rapids, Michigan for Graham’s very first crusade in 1947. Barrows provided the music while Graham preached, until the last crusade in New York in 2005.

David Bruce is the executive assistant to Billy Graham and attended the service Tuesday.

He said Graham and Barrows were like brothers for the last 70 years.

“It's a big loss to Mr. Graham,” Bruce said. “He's well aware of this and he's praying for us today, though physically he couldn't be here.”

Billy Graham spends most of his time in prayer and contemplation at his home in Montreat, North Carolina and still thinks of the decades he spent with Barrows, traveling the world. He was the preacher while Barrows provided the music.

Billy Graham's nephew, Mel Graham, said they went everywhere.

“When these men first met and started traveling to go overseas,” Mel Graham said, "it was a two-week boat ride by the Queen Mary. There were no airplanes.”

The entire family thought of Barrows as an uncle; Mel Graham said he didn't realize Barrows wasn't his real uncle until he was older.

“Uncle Cliff was one of a kind, as he did millions of others in so many ways.”

Martha Sue Abbott remembered Barrows leading music during evangelistic crusades.

“Impact on my life. Wonderful man,” Abbott said. “That team was God inspired. Wonderful, wonderful team.

“Cliff had the ability to lead people in song, not as entertainment, but really open people’s hearts up to the message that Billy Graham would give,” Billy Graham’s brother-in-law Leighton Ford said last week.

Ford watched as the two men worked closely over the decades. He called Barrows the glue that kept everything together.

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