American evangelist Billy Graham, one of the best-known preachers of Christianity who addressed packed stadiums worldwide and counselled several United States Presidents, died aged 99 at his home in Montreat, North Carolina, on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

Jeremy Blume, a spokesperson for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said Graham died on Wednesday morning.

During his 60 years as a preacher, Graham – once described as God’s Ambassador – personally preached to an estimated 21 crore people, and reached several more through television and the radio, BBC reported.

William Franklin Graham Junior was born on November 7, 1918 and brought up on a dairy farm in Charlotte, North Carolina. His parents were part of the conservative Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.

Graham was ordained as a minister in 1939. He supported the civil rights movement in the US in the 1950s, after first being sceptical of it.

He addressed several audiences at large arenas across the world, beginning with a trip to London in 1954.

Graham battled a number of illnesses in the past few years, including prostate cancer, hydrocephalus and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, The New York Times reported.