Kathie Lee Gifford, like the rest of her morning TV colleagues, was preparing for another day on the air when news came that Billy Graham had passed away at 99. The man often referred to as “America's preacher” lived long on earth, but for many of his recent years, life was a struggle. Failing eyes and limbs beset the man who brought so many to faith for the very first time through his tent revivals and then television. Kathie Lee Gifford described how she and her own family were among those brought to true encounters with God on their knees, heeding the heartfelt altar call brought to their living room by Billy Graham.

Kathie Lee Gifford and her husband, sports commentator and football great, Frank Gifford, were friends with Billy Graham for many years, so much so that they were invited to many functions honoring the man who understood the power of media to make faith personal, far before any notion of the mega-church. Gifford shared her joyous reaction that Billy Graham was “home” today as she talked with Megyn Kelly on her hour of “Today.” Kathie Lee Gifford often shares the very human dimensions and dilemmas of faith, and she offered a very warm and tasteful tale of Billy Graham being treated to his favorite food.

A big backer and a burger

Billy Graham always said that anytime he looked into a camera, “I'm talking to one person,” and it was his personal appeal that was so palpable even to newspaper mogul, William Randolph Hearst, that he insisted that his newspapers promote the 1949 tent revivals in Los Angeles.

Audiences of 350,000 flocked to see the charismatic Graham. The exposure put Billy Graham behind the most prominent pulpit possible, one he could've never imagined as the “willful and rebellious” youth who desperately surrendered himself to God in a South Carolina church after a bitter breakup with a girlfriend.

The evangelist ministered to presidents and the poorest of people alike, whether in India or Indiana, with equal zeal.

Kathie Lee described coming home to find her mother and sister crying on their knees in front of the TV, fearing someone had died. The truth of their coming to faith was lovely to her, but she detailed that God used another Billy Graham groundbreaking media to make God real to her. The 1965 film, “The Restless Ones,” about a pastor in teen ministry who finds his son involved with a troubled girl, spoke to Gifford in its own way.

The aspiring actress realized that her faith could remain a vital vehicle in her vocation, and she has remained outspoken in faith. Even in the wee hours of this morning, Kathie was “talking someone down” from hopelessness, offering them the joy, hope, and power to start again inspired by faith. “We have too much religion,” she spoke to Kelly. “This is about the relationship with Jesus” and curing “the malignancy of the soul.”

She last saw Dr. Graham at his 95th birthday, where she asked his granddaughter for a moment to thank him. When she told him who she was, as his eyes flickered, he replied,” I love you,” and she responded in a heartfelt, gentle hug.

Billy Graham was known for many guest starring roles on prime time TV, but he did agree to be part of Kathie Lee Gifford's first Christmas special circa 1994.

The scene called for Cody and Cassidy Gifford to be gathered with their friends as Dr. Graham read the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke. When the revered guest arrived early to his hosts’ home, they offered him “anything you want” before his part began. “Anything?” he questioned to be sure. Getting all the assurance he needed, he asked: “Can I have a Big Mac?” With a run to the neighborhood McDonald's franchise, Frank Gifford returned with the 10 he promised to the pastor, and 100 for the whole crew. Fast food may be a sin to trendy diet gurus, but Billy Graham clearly granted some leeway to the Golden Arches.

Look past the pulpit

Megyn Kelly seemed mournful that there was no one of such respect and stature who offered faith to uplift and inspire hope in the stead of Billy Graham.

Kathie Lee Gifford countered that there were many genuine pastors of faith still preaching the power of redemption, but that people need to see “beyond the pulpit. Someone's greatest example of faith “might be your plumber,” she reminded.

Billy Graham often gave his sagest wisdom while on the links of the golf course, and his faithful wife, Ruth, is known for saying that in marriage, she considered murder, but never divorce. These were people who grappled with the real world and its raw and rough situations. Billy Graham said he felt like he was attending his own funeral when he was honored by three presidents and many dignitaries in 2007 for the opening of his library near his North Carolina home.

There's probably no mansion in the realms where Billie Graham is now. Things a country boy would remember are more fitting. There are many people Billy Graham may not know by name, but they know him because he made their first introduction to the creator of a living faith.