Reverend Billy Graham’s Legacy in Iowa

AMES, Iowa- The passing of world famous Christian evangelist Billy Graham has caused some to pause over local connection to Graham.

Simon Estes, a world renowned operatic singer, and teacher once sang on a Billy Graham Crusade. It was in Madison Square Garden back in 1966-67 era.

“That was the first time that I had sung in New York Cit, other than Carnegie Hall, but I was still very very naïve,” said Simon Estes from his music teaching studio at Iowa State University. “I’d known about Billy Graham all my life of course, to go to Madison Square Garden I couldn’t believe that I was really there was like a dream, standing there and singing.

Estes said he sang a song called “The Lord is My Life.” He did not however get to meet Rev. Graham.

“I was so excited, and I love music, I love sharing the talent to God has given me,” said Estes. “Singing for the Billy Graham Crusade, there were thousands of people in Madison Square Garden, it was just a humbling, I was honored and I was thrilled to be able to sing for such a great Christian spiritual leader.”

Estes spends time teaching at Iowa State and Des Moines Area Community College, in addition he is also raising money to help prevent malaria in Africa, and raising funds for kids through the Simon Estes Foundation.

In West Des Moines, KNWI-FM radio or Life107.1 is a part of a broadcast group founded by Billy Graham.

“Billy Graham started the very first Northwestern Media Radio station in 1949 in the Twin Cities,” said Bruce Barrows, General Manager of the station. “He was President of the University of Northwestern, we’re a part of what he began a long long time ago.”

The news of Billy Graham’s passing came down during the morning drive shift at Life 107.1.

“It was a bittersweet moment, we know that Billy Graham has just changed addresses, but he’s moved on to heaven, been promoted so to speak,” said on air host Jen Green. “A lot of people don’t realize there wouldn’t be Life 107.1 if it weren’t for Billy Graham.”

Green hosts a morning show called Taylor and Jen, with Taylor Hohulin.

“The mission for Life 107.1 is to reach people for Christ here in Central Iowa and to encourage people in their faith,” said Hohulin. “I think that comes down from Billy Graham.”

The Northwestern Media Group includes stations in West Des Moines, Waterloo, the Twin Cities, Duluth, Madison, WI, Sioux Falls, Fargo, Bismarck, Kansas City, and Hartford CT