Inmates crafted Ruth Graham's casket

ASHEVILLE — Ruth Bell Graham will be laid to rest in a simple, plywood casket hand crafted by prison inmates, a Graham family spokesman said.

The casket, which cost about $200 to make, is lined with a mattress pad. Upon his death, the Rev. Billy Graham will be buried in a matching casket, a news release from longtime Graham spokesman A. Larry Ross stated.

Graham died at 5:05 p.m. Thursday at her home on Little Piney Cove in Montreat, surrounded by her husband and children, who had been reading Scripture and praying.

During a visit in 2005 to the Louisiana State Penitentiary, Graham's son the Rev. Franklin Graham noticed some coffins being made by the inmates. He learned it was a project started several years ago when a warden discovered that many of the poorer inmates were being buried in cardboard boxes, the news release said.

The warden had the prisoners construct plywood caskets for themselves and others who could not afford to buy a casket.

Franklin Graham requested the prisoners design and build two caskets for his parents. The Grahams' coffins were built by inmate Richard "Grasshopper" Liggett and others whose names are burned into the wood.

The Grahams requested no special upgrades to the caskets, but they were modified slightly for easier transport to multiple locations, the news release said.

This article originally appeared in the Asheville Citizen-Times on June 15, 2007.


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