Billy Graham Center
Collection 74 - Joyce Tucker Supplee. T58 Transcript
Click here to listen to an audio file of of the unrestricted portion this interview (20 minutes)
This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the oral history interview of Joyce Tucker Supplee (CN 74, T58) in the Archives of the Billy Graham Center. No spoken words have been omitted, except for any non-English phrases which could not be understood by the transcribers. Foreign terms are not commonly understood appear in italics. In very few cases words were too unclear to be distinguished. If the transcriber was not completely sure of having gotten what the speaker said, "[?]" was inserted after the word or phrase in question. If the speech was inaudible or indistinguishable, "[unclear]" was inserted. Grunts and verbal hesitations such as "ah" or "um" were usually omitted. The transcribers have not attempted to phonetically replicate English dialects but have instead entered the standard English word the speaker was expressing. Readers should remember that this is a transcript of spoken English, which follows a different rhythm and rule than written English. Foreign terms or phrases which may be unfamiliar appear in italics.
... Three dots indicate an interruption or break in the train of thought within the sentence on the part of the speaker.
.... Four dots indicate what the transcriber believes to be the end of an incomplete sentence.
( ) Words in parentheses are asides made by the speaker.
[ ] Words in brackets are comments by the transcriber.
This transcription was made by Bob Shuster, Katherine Grabner, and Paul Bartow was completed in March 2014.
Collection 74, T58. Interview of Joyce Tucker Supplee by Robert Shuster on May 13, 2010
SHUSTER: I’m recording this now on our tape-recorder here. Is that okay?
SUPPLEE: Say that again. I coughed. I’m sorry.
SHUSTER: That’s okay. I am recording this on our tape-recorder for the archives.
SUPPLEE: Oh yeah that’s fine. Yeah.
SHUSTER: Okay. Very good! Well, let me just give a brief introduction and then we’ll...I’ll ask you some questions, and we’ll see how it goes.
SHUSTER: Alright, this is an interview of Mrs. Joyce Tucker Supplee by Bob Shuster for the Billy Graham Center Archives at Wheaton College, took place on May 13th, 2010 at 10:00 AM Central Standard Time.
SUPPLEE: Oh that’s right...this is eleven. Oh that’s why you weren’t calling. You’re right, you’re in the right...on time..
SHUTSER: Okay [both laugh].
SUPPLEE: Okay, that’s fine.
SHUSTER: Very good. Well let me start off by asking you when and where you were born.
SUPPLEE: I was born in Monona, Iowa in 1923.
SHUSTER: And what years were you at Wheaton College?
SUPPLEE: I was at Wheaton College from 1941 to ‘45.
SHUSTER: ‘45. And why did you choose to attend Wheaton?
SUPPLEE: Well, I live in Wheaton.
SUPPLEE: It was my hometown, and I wanted to go there [laughs].
SHUTSER: Had you also gone to Wheaton Academy?
SUPPLEE: No. No, I went to a public high school.
SHUSTER: When and how did you first meet Billy Graham?
SUPPLEE: Well, probably at Wheaton College. Since I lived in Wheaton, I knew...knew him probably before I ever started...started school. But then I got involved with this quartet I sang in and with his...program in...Downer’s Grove it was, yeah.
SHUSTER: You mean Western Springs Bible...Baptist Church? The Western Springs Baptist Church.
SUPPLEE: The Western Springs..., yes. Uh-huh.
SHUSTER: Of course he became pastor there after he graduated.
SHUSTER: Did you have any contact with him while he was a student?
SUPPLEE: I don’t think so. No, it must have been just after that.
SHUTSER: Uh-huh. Did you ever go to hear him when he was preaching at the Tabernacle in Wheaton?
SUPPLEE: No, I don’t think so.
SHUSTER: And you never had any classes with him?
SHUSTER: So all of your contact was at Western Springs Baptist Church?
SUPPLEE: I think so. Uh-huh.
SHUSTER: Of course he has...he was pastor there as you mentioned and he also shortly after becoming pastor of the church [he] took over broadcasting the radio program Songs in the Night.
SUPPLEE: Yeah, that was the program...that was when I ministered with him.
SHUSTER: Uh-huh. How did you.... You were in a quartet group, is that right?
SUPPLEE: Yes, right. Uh-huh.
SHUTSER: How did that...how was that quartet group formed?
SUPPLEE: We formed it from the Women’s Glee Club at Wheaton...
SUPPLEE: and started singing together. And then we...I don’t know how I got onto Songs in the Night. We...hmm....
SHUSTER: Who were some of the other people?
SUPPLEE: Well, because they were going from...we went out from Wheaton. I was a sophomore at Wheaton I think, and a carload of us went out every Sunday night. This quartet and another fellow that was connected some way or other drove out from Wheaton to Western Springs every Sunday night. We did it live.
SHUSTER: Who were the other women in the quartet?
SUPPLEE: Myself and Joyce Ferrin. She was the daughter of...the president of a college out in the east. I can’t think of the name of it. [Providence Bible Insitute in Rhode Island]
SUPPLEE: Yes, the father was president. And then Anna-Lisa Beckman and...Elisabeth Hyslop. H-Y-S-L-O-P. And we sang together at least two years. And then had a substitute. Probably were together about four years, I imagine.
SUPPLEE: We went on... after we got to doing this at the quartet in Songs in the Night, we went on a summer tour that Billy Graham preached out in the east. And we were the special music for him for a week out in some churches out in the east coast.
SHUSTER: How did the quartet form? I mean how did you get together?
SUPPLEE: [Coughs] From the Women’s Glee Club at Wheaton. We formed from there and then kind of went out on our own. Anna-Lisa Beckman was a very fine musician, and she made our arrangements and having a women’s quartet was a little different from the women’s trio but she was able to do that. And she was an accompanist of...of...and went to a lot of churches out east. She was from out east.
SHUSTER: Who was from out east? Oh, she was.
SUPPLEE: Anna-Lisa Beckman. Yeah. So we went out on a summer trip with Billy Graham from Songs in the Night, I guess it must have been the next...the next summer. And for a week, and was [sic] the special music for a week of some of his first meetings that he ever had.
SHUSTER: Going back to the church again where you were broadcasting...
SHUSTER: ...you say you don’t recall how you were selected to be the quartet on the program?
SUPPLEE: Not exactly. I knew the head...the head of WMBI, I got a job from ... on WMBI right after I graduated, but this was before we graduated. But Donald Hustad was the head of WMBI, and he was the...organist of this program Songs in the Night.
SHUSTER: I see.
SUPPLEE: I think we got together that way.
SHUSTER: Where was the...where was the program broadcast from?
SUPPLEE: Western Springs Church.
SHUSTER: From the church.
SHUSTER: And what was the studio like?
SUPPLEE: Well, I don’t remember. It was just at the church. A big platform as I remember, and Don used to play the organ. And we sang. And it was just a half hour program.
SHUSTER: Was it...was there a live audience or congregation there?
SUPPLEE: I think not. It was at 9:30 at night, so it was live, you know on the air, but I don’t think we had a live audience.
SHUSTER: Now it was live on the air, so did you ever have a chance to hear yourself on the broadcast?
SUPPLEE: Oh sure, yeah. Yeah.
SHUSTER: Somebody made a recording for you?
SUPPLEE: Oh yeah. Uh-huh.
SHUSTER: And what kind of response did you get to your...to your broadcast? Did people stop you and talk to you?
SUPPLEE: Well, it lasted for quite a long time, I remember hearing it long after we’d left and they were still playing it on the radio. And I heard it from that.
SHUSTER: But you, personally, what kind of response did you get from people about being on the program, if any?
SUPPLEE: Well, they liked the program. That’s all I remember. I don’t know that we got any personal response.
SHUSTER: So what was the format of the program? What kind of...?
SUPPLEE: Well, we ... I can’t remember exactly. It was only a half hour, and we started with this song which Anna-Lisa Beckman wrote, Songs in the Night, and it ended with a long, “The Lord give us songs in the night,” or “God give us songs in the night” and then we’d close off with that, and I guess we sang a special number once in a while but it was only a half hour. So we were on and then Billy was on to give a short devotional, and that was about all there was to it.
SHUSTER: What...what did Billy Graham look like at this time? What was his physical appearance?
SUPPLEE: Tall and thin and good looking [laughs].
SHUSTER: What kind of impression did he make upon you?
SUPPLEE: Well, very good. He was...he was...he was a dynamic leader even at that time. He had a lot of push and very personable.
SHUSTER: When you say “he had a lot of push” what do you mean?
SUPPLEE: Well, he...organization. He got this...he got this program started that had never been on the air before. [The program had actually beeen originated by Torrey M. Johnson at Midwest Bible Church, who then gave it to Graham.] And I guess they wanted him at this...for this program. And it...I don’t know how long it was on or how we were on live, but at least through the school year and... [coughs], excuse me.
SUPPLEE: [Coughs] And then we went out on this one week trip out to the East Coast and sang with ...he had a series of meetings.
SUPPLEE: One night every week...one...on every night for a week and we sang..we were the special music for that with him. And that was at the very beginning of his...his...ministry.
SHUSTER: What kind of sermons did he preach? You said that they were devotionals that he preached?
SUPPLEE: Very simple. Well, the one on Songs in the Night, it was a devotional to encourage them for...the song said “Songs in the night, songs in the night, Lord/ God give us songs in the night/ Days dark and drear...” Oh boy, “Days dark and drear...” I can’t remember the line. But “God give us songs in the night.” So it was to encourage people. And as I remember listening to it, it was just to encourage people in times of stress and that God loved them and would stay with them.
SHUSTER: Were they evangelistic messages? Was he encouraging...?
SUPPLEE : No, it wasn’t...this particular one wasn’t evangelistic I’m sure. It was just a comfort program.
SHUSTER: Do you recall any particular sermons?
SUPPLEE: No, huh-uh.
SHUSTER: Was...let’s see now...so you were there and of course Billy Graham was there preaching. Was there an engineer or something recording the program, or...?
SUPPLEE: Oh yeah, oh yeah. And...oh what’s the name of the singer?
SHUSTER: George Beverly Shea?
SUPPLEE: George Beverly Share...Shea sang on the same program.
SHUSTER: Oh, okay.
SHUSTER: So did the quartet sing with him together or you sang separate numbers?
SUPPLEE: Separate numbers as I can remember. I can barely remember...I know we signed on and signed off and we must have done some special numbers once...
SUPPLEE: ...at least once in a while, I can’t remember. It’s been a long time ago.
SHUTSER: Sure, sure [both laugh]. Do you recall, I mean who was in charge of arranging the music or selecting the music?
SUPPLEE: That I don’t know.
SHUSTER: Anything else about the radio program that you wanted to mention that you recall? Any incidents that happened?
SUPPLEE: No, I can’t remember. I just remember that we were students then and it was quite a deal to go out, you had to get special permission of course, to go out at night to get there and then didn’t get back until late at night.
SHUSTER: This would be Sunday nights that you broadcast?
SUPPLEE: [Pauses] Yeah, it was Sunday night. Uh-huh.
SHUSTER: And what time did you usually get back?
SUPPLEE: Oh, I’d just have to guess. It must have been 9:30, 10:30. It must have been after 11 [laughs]. We must have gotten special permission, but I was living at home, see....?
SHUSTER: Oh I see, yeah. The other girls were probably in the dormitory?
SHUSTER: The other girls were in the dormitories?
SUPPLEE: Yes, uh-huh. I was the only one living at home but it was only four blocks from home so it wasn’t hard from me to...
SHUSTER: College was only four blocks from home?
SUPPLEE: Yeah, right.
SHUSTER: How did you get to Western Springs?
SUPPLEE: In car. In a car. I remember my loaded car.
SHUSTER: I’m sorry, a what kind of car?
SUPPLEE: Loaded car, you know?
SHUSTER: Oh, a loaded car.
SUPPLEE: Yeah, a loaded car.
SHUSTER: So one of the girls...
SUPPLEE: I remember having to sit on top of somebody once in a while. That part I remember. But I don’t.... So it would have been the four of us and a fellow went. He must have been the announcer or something. His name was...
SHUSTER: Do you recall who that was?
SUPPLEE: Oh his first name was Reul...Reul...I can’t remember [laughs].
SHUSTER: R-O-U-L? Roul?
SUPPLEE: No, R-E-U-L, I think.
SUPPLEE: Or L-L maybe.
SHUSTER: And he...you think he was the announcer on the show?
SUPPLEE: I can’t remember his last name.
SHUSTER: How long did the quartet sing on the program?
SUPPLEE: Well, I think probably just that one school year. And then we went out...
SHUSTER: In the summer.
SUPPLEE: And then we went out with him for this.... Actually, our...Anna-Lisa Beckman that arranged our songs arranged a three week trip for the quartet and one of the weeks was with Billy Graham. But we also went on our own for two more weeks to different churches. She had a real good contact with the churches because she was an accompanist for [F.] Carlton Booth who then was a well-known tenor singer out on the East Coast, so she knew all these churches. And we got...places to sing because of that. So we were out for three weeks and earned money to go to Wheaton College the next year [laughs].
SUPPLEE: And I can’t remember, I think we probably only sang Songs in the Night this one summer...thos one...it wasn’t summer, it was winter.
SHUSTER: So that was in ‘43-‘44.
SUPPLEE: Or ‘42-‘43.
SHUSTER: Well, Graham didn’t graduate from Wheaton until 19...May ‘43 and then after that’s when he became pastor of Western Springs.
SUPPLEE: Oh yeah, okay, then okay, yeah.
SHUSTER: You mentioned the tour several times, where did you...what cities was... what cities did you go to?
SUPPLEE: Oh, Philadelphia and Boston. I can’t remember where the meetings were for Boston...but it was on the ocean [both laugh]. I got a picture of me with Billy Graham in the Atlantic Ocean.
SHUSTER: Oh wow! That was, yeah, Atlantic City.
SUPPLEE: Really well known churches on the East Coast. Evangelical churches.
SHUSTER: So these are individual...
SUPPLEE: Anna-Lisa had this contact because she had played piano for this tenor singer. And I can’t remember now...prob...
SHUSTER: Still there?
SUPPLEE: Yeah, I’m still here.
SHUSTER: So you were singing...the quartet was singing in individual churches?
SHUSTER: And what was...what was your program like? What did your concert consist of?
SUPPLEE: Just evangelical songs of encouragement and ...and well-known hymns.
SHUSTER: Do you recall...
SUPPLEE: And testimonies we gave. And it was probably in an hour program. Varied program.
SHUSTER: Do you recall any of the individual songs you sang?
SUPPLEE: [Sighs] I’m trying to think of the arrangements. [Laughs, pauses for a long time].
SHUSTER: Oh that’s okay.
SUPPLEE: Oh yeah, we sang a couple of Negro spirituals, and I sang a solo now and then. It was just a combination of hymns and spiritual songs.
SHUSTER: Now you mentioned that you were on a three week tour all together. For one week you were traveling with Billy Graham, and he was speaking, you were giving your concert.
SHUSTER: Do you recall what cities that was [sic]? Where you were with Billy Graham when he preached?
SUPPLEE: No, I can’t remember. [Coughs] I know that we were in Boston. And that’s about the only...I probably have an itinerary someplace, but I can’t remember. But, as I said, Anna-Lisa had these contacts in the churches. That’s one of the main churches in Boston.
SHUSTER: Park Street Church is one of the main...
SUPPLEE: Yes, we sang in Park Street for a...for a prayer meeting I think. And....
SHUSTER: I know in Philadelphia, one of the main evangelical churches was Tenth Presbyterian.
SUPPLEE: I think we might have sung there too. Yeah, I know that church.
SHUSTER: With...as far as Billy Graham’s preaching, were these evangelistic sermons that he preached? Or they...?
SUPPLEE: Yes, uh-huh.
SHUSTER: Do you recall anything about them?
SUPPLEE: No [laughs] not really.
SHUSTER: How did people respond?
SUPPLEE: Very well as far as I know. Yeah.
SHUSTER: Very well in the sense that people came forward? I mean, what...?
SUPPLEE: Well, I really can’t remember.
SUPPLEE: I’m sure that was so. Yeah.
SHUSTER: So you mentioned...the whole group went to Atlantic City or went to the Atlantic...or went to the coast for...?
SUPPLEE: Yes. Apparently.
SHUSTER: Do you recall anything about that?
SUPPLEE: Not really [laughs].
SHUSTER: Well, let’s see, is there anything else you want to add about as far as memories of working with Billy Graham?
SUPPLEE: Oh, my husband just wrote a note, have you called Don Hustad?
SHUSTER: Not for this particular project but I’ve talked with him in the past, yeah.
SUPPLEE: Well, he was the...he was the organist on this program Songs in the Night. And through that, I got a four...I sang at WMBI for four years because he knew who I was, and he said when I graduated I should come in there and I got.... And I sang for WMBI for four years and then got married and came down here [laughs].
SHUSTER: And when you say “came down here,” you mean in...?
SUPPLEE: Columbia, South Carolina.
SHUSTER: Columbia, yeah.
SUPPLEE: Columbia Bible College.
SHUSTER: Columbia Bible College.
SHUSTER: Did you have any contact with Billy and Ruth Graham afterwards?
SUPPLEE: [Sighs] I can’t think. Let me see. Yes, there was...he had...Billy Graham had one of his first evangelistic....
SUPPLEE: ...campaigns was at Township Auditorium in Columbia in what year? Just a minute.
SHUSTER: That was 1950.
SUPPLEE’S HUSBAND: ‘49-‘50.
SHUSTER: Uh-huh. And...
SUPPLEE: You know, I went to the meeting, I’ve been to meetings I guess, but we didn’t have any real, real close contact with Billy. No.
SHUSTER: Was his preaching style the same?
SUPPLEE: Just about. Yes. As far as I know. Very straightforward and very plain and unadorned and just...just the facts [laughs].
SHUSTER: What was...what was...what was he like personally? You must have had some conversation or contact with him.
SUPPLEE: Oh just friendly. My husband just said Billy...my husband played the piano for this meeting at the Township Auditorium back then.
SUPPLEE: We had just come...we had just come to Columbia after we got married, so he was there. That was one of the first things that he did, so...
SHUSTER: And he’s also a musician obviously.
SUPPLEE: Oh yeah. Yeah, he was head of the music department. That was what called us down here. And he was head of the music...or was in...at the Columbia Bible College for forty years before he retired.
SHUSTER: And his first name is William?
SUPPLEE: George William. But he went by Bill Supplee.
SHUSTER: Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
SUPPLEE: No, I just...it was...I think Billy would remember me because we got...you know...had this contact for all...all one whole year, and he was certainly...an outstanding evangelist and I’m glad that I knew him, and his testimony was sure and...and never was any problem. And Ruth too, we knew her. Bill’s oldest sister went to school with them, and we knew them kind of through that.
SUPPLEE: She was in the same class as Billy Graham and Ruth...Ruth Bell. She would...she has passed on now, but she would have known them personally, and we didn’t, so. Thank you!
SHUSTER: Well, thank you, I appreciate very much your being willing to do this interview.
SUPPLEE: Okay, and what are you going to do with this, all of this information?
SHUSTER: Just a second, I’m going to turn off the tape recorder.
END OF TAPE
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