Clifford Burton Barrows, 93, of Marvin, North Carolina, died Nov. 15, 2016, at Carolinas Medical Center – Pineville following a short illness.
Best known as the music and program director of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), Cliff Barrows was born on April 6, 1923, in Ceres, Calif., the son of Harriet M. and Charles Tilson Barrows (both deceased).
Barrows graduated from Bob Jones University in 1944 with a B.A. in Sacred Music. He was ordained by a Baptist Church in Ceres in 1944 and briefly served as an assistant pastor at Temple Baptist Church in St. Paul, Minn.
In 1945, Barrows married Billie Newell (deceased). It was on their honeymoon in western North Carolina that they first met a young evangelist named Billy Graham.
Music played a significant role in the programming of Billy Graham Crusades, for which Barrows was responsible dating back to the first Crusade in Grand Rapids, Mich., in 1947. Barrows and soloist George Beverly Shea were the nucleus of the Crusade musical team. As music and program director, Barrows led congregational singing and Crusade choirs around the world with Billy Graham.
Mr. Barrows remained active in his later years in the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He hosted the weekly Hour of Decision radio program, heard around the world, for more than 60 years. Up until his passing, he hosted the Hour of Decision Online Internet radio program, which posts weekly on BillyGraham.org. He also served on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Board of Directors since 1950.
For significant contributions to Gospel music, Barrows was inducted into the Nashville Gospel Music Hall of Fame in April 1988, and into the Religious Broadcasting Hall of Fame in February 1996. Barrows was also inducted into the inaugural class of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists’ “Hall of Faith” in 2008.
Memorization of Scripture was a significant part of Barrows’ walk with Christ. Even when he couldn’t read in his later years due to deteriorating vision, he would have God’s Word read aloud to him so he could memorize it.
He was married to Billie for nearly 50 years. Then God brought Barrows and his second wife, Ann Prince, together following the death of both of their spouses to cancer.
He is survived by his wife, Ann, and five children from his first marriage and their spouses – Chris and Bonnie Thomas, Bob Barrows, David and Betty Ruth Seera, Clifford (Bud) Barrows, and Bill and Teri Barrows – and numerous grandchildren. He is also survived by Ann Barrows’ children and their spouses, Tal and Teresa Prince and David and Dana Shillington.
He was preceded in death by his first wife, Billie Barrows.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by McEwen Funeral Service in Charlotte, N.C. A public funeral service will be held Tuesday, Nov. 22, at 10:30 a.m. at Calvary Church in Charlotte (5801 Pineville-Matthews Road). A private family burial will be held that afternoon at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, where Barrows will be interred.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, NC 28201, BillyGraham.org); Samaritan’s Purse (PO Box 3000, Boone, NC 28607, www.SamaritansPurse.org); and Ravencrest Chalet Bible School and Retreat Center, a member of Torchbearers International (PO Box 2620, Estes Park, CO 80517, www.RavenCrest.org). A memorial website has been set up in Barrows’ honor at CliffBarrowsMemorial.org.