CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - Former Governor and Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory said the late Rev. Billy Graham is, possibly, "the most important person" to ever come from North Carolina.
"Be proud Billy Graham called Charlotte, North Carolina home," McCrory said. "He had a heck of an impact on tens of millions of people throughout the world."
Now, a radio talk show host, McCrory gets emotional talking about the death of America's Pastor and what his life meant to him personally.
"I, like millions of people throughout the world, was devastated," McCrory said. "I've been expecting this for months. But from a selfish standpoint I miss him already."
For more than a decade, during his time in office both as mayor and governor, Graham became a spiritual "counselor" to McCrory, he said. That included when he signed HB2 into law and the subsequent fallout over the controversial so-called Bathroom Bill.
"He reached out to help people at their lowest points including me as governor. When I was going through difficult times he prayed with me," McCrory said, who paused and started to tear up. "I prayed with him and it'll be a moment I never forget until my last breath."
McCrory said he texted Graham's son, Franklin, Wednesday morning to thank him for "sharing his dad with the world." He said it feels like America "lost a dad" too.
"He is where he wants to be," McCrory said. "He's in Heaven next to his wife."
McCrory said the 99-year-old, farmer's son, who filled stadiums around the world, would have "hated" the current attention and would have wanted the spotlight on God instead.
He said Graham taught him about being humble, reminding him "it's not about you," and finding a greater purpose in life.
"His actions spoke louder than his words," he said. "Through his modesty, through his strength, through his wisdom. And that's something we should all take from his life, not from his death."