Rev. Billy Graham, one of the most internationally recognized Christian evangelist was laid to rest in a coffin built years ago by inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.
The history of the coffin
According to Mark DeMoss Rev. Graham’s casket was made in the year 2006 by some inmates in Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola. It was crafted after Billy Graham’s son; Franklin Graham conducted a preaching engagement in Angola in 2005. After touring this maximum prison, he saw coffins being built by inmates for inmates who died in prison.
The coffins were very simple. They were made of pine, plywood and skillfully lined with a mattress pad. A wooden cross was also nailed to the top of the coffin. According to former Angola warden Burl Cain, Franklin was attracted to the coffin due to the fact that the coffins were plain. He then went ahead and requested that the same coffins be made for his father and mother.
The coffin costs $200. It was not upgraded. However, it was modified for easy transportation. According to Ken Pastorick a Louisiana Department of Corrections spokesman, Mr. Graham’s wife, Ruth Graham, was buried in a casket from Angola.
The Craftsmen of Graham’s Coffin
According to Pastorick, Graham’s casket was built by three former offenders namely:
- Richard “Grasshopper” Liggett
- Clarence Wilkerson and
- David Bacon
Among the craftsmen, only David Bacon is still alive. David was released from prison in 2016 after Gov. John Edwards commuted his sentence. Richard “Grasshopper” Liggett, passed on in 2007. Clarence Wilkerson died earlier this year. David, the only craftsman still alive could not be reached according to some reports. Their names are wood-burned onto the coffins as requested by the Grahams.
Cain, a former warden credits the transformation of the Angolan prison to the Grahams. The prison was one of the deadliest prisons in the late 20th century. This prison has been transformed into a place of spirituality over the years. The Grahams have donated thousands of dollars to build two chapels in the prison’s premises. The Grahams still visit the prison to share the love of Christ to the inmates.
Rev. Graham was sent in the same floral arrangement he used to send others on in funeral occasions.