... 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 and Paul Bartow was completed in August 2013.
Collection 74, T74. Interview of Dr. Mark W. Lee by Robert Shuster on October 4, 2010.
SHUSTER: This is an interview with Dr. Mark W. Lee by Bob Shuster for the Billy Graham Center Archives. It took place on October 4th, 2010 at 9:30 AM in Dr. Lee’s home in Buffalo, Minnesota. So good morning Dr. Lee.
LEE: Good morning, Bob. Good to meet you.
SHUSTER: I’d like to say a few words make sure we’re picking up today. What’s the weather like today?
SHUSTER: What’s the weather like...Just a few words, what’s the weather like today?
LEE: Oh, oh. You have beautiful Minnesota weather. It’s almost seventy degrees. It will be seventy degrees today. And on October 4th, that’s pretty good.
SHUSTER: Indeed, very nice out today. So why don’t we start with some basic information: when and where were you born?
LEE: I was born in Akron, Ohio on January 23rd, 1923. Which makes me...my next birthday I’ll be eighty-eight years of age.
SHUSTER: Mmm. And why did you come to Wheaton? As a student?
LEE: I went to Wheaton for a couple of reasons. One of them was Dr. Edman shortly after he was made president of Wheaton in 1940, I was at Nyack, what is now Nyack College in Nyack, New York.
SHUSTER: And you belong to the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church?
LEE: Yes. And the Christian and Missionary Alliance. And he was a speaker, he was a speaker at graduation. And I attended graduation although I wasn’t graduating that year. And as each one of the Wheaton grads who had gone to Nyack to prepare to go the mission field (because that was the focus at Nyack at the time).... And he stood and walked up and shook hands to each one of the Wheaton grads who were preparing to go out under the Alliance...
SHUSTER: The Nyack grads?
LEE: Well, they were now Nyack grads but they had been Wheaton grads.
SHUSTER: Oh I see, I see.
LEE: And they went to Nyack which was the Vatican for the Alliance [both laugh] to send missionaries to the field and pastors to the church. And he stood and shook hands with each one of those grads. And I thought “Boy, that’s a cool president.” That was the days before we used cool in that sense. And I totally enjoyed what he said because he was one of these men who had the ability to say something in a normal kind of...instead of shouting at you or pounding at you. He...he really truly appealed to you as a person and as a mind. And...so he made an enormous impact on me. And I wanted to go to Wheaton as a result of that. But also the students who came to Nyack from Wheaton (and we always had three or four or five) they were super students. They were excellent students. Not only in the classroom but in their maturity. They communicated the kind of,,,the kind of thing you wanted to be as an adult, young person, who is also a Christian. All of that appealed to me and I had this inner feeling that I wanted to go to Wheaton. But Wheaton even then was considered the...the prince of Christian colleges. Even though compared to what Wheaton is today, it was more modest. But it was still the best undergraduate Christian institution in my opinion and in the opinion of a great many people at the time. So that’s what drew me to Wheaton.
SHUSTER: And what years were you there?
LEE: I went to Wheaton a year after Billy Graham graduated, in 1944. I graduated at Nyack in ‘43, spent one year in ministry in Nebraska and got married during that year. And then in 1944, I went to Wheaton.
SHUSTER: Now when...after Graham had graduated from Wheaton, he was for a brief time a pastor at Western Springs, Illinois.
LEE: Yeah, that’s the first time that I saw him was at Western Springs.
SHUSTER: Why don’t you describe that occasion?
LEE: Well, he had Songs in the Night. That’s what drew the students. Students were...
SHUSTER: Songs in the Night was a radio program.
LEE: That was a radio program. And of course radio was dominant then. We didn’t have any television. And it was an immediate success. If you didn’t go, you tended to listen in because of the excellence. Especially the music program was very attractive and it was done...what shall I say? Again, I repeat what I said about Edman: it was done in a kind of intimate way instead of shouting at you or pressing. It let the message do its own job. And so sometimes we...most of the time, we’d listen in on the radio. But sometimes a lot of us would go down there and...
SHUSTER: How many is a lot? How many people would go?
LEE: Oh, oh, well, when it first went on, there were almost busloads going down there, you know. But by the time that I showed up, there would be individual carloads that would go down. Perhaps twenty-five, thirty, forty students would go down. Now, more students would probably go but there was a curfew in some of the areas. I was married, so I didn’t have a curfew. So if there wasn’t a curfew on it. More students would go than actually went if there hadn’t been the obligation of the Sunday night curfew.
SHUSTER: Uh-huh. And what was...where was the program recorded? Where was the broadcast from?
LEE: Well, it was held in the Western Springs Church where he was a pastor.
SHUSTER: And what was that like?
LEE: It was a basement church. It didn’t have a superstructure. It was a basement church. You knew you were going into the basement of the future church, the lower level. It wasn’t a basement like basement you know [Shuster laughs] it was...it was Well, formed but it wasn’t churchy. It didn’t have a church like atmosphere. It had a kind of meeting atmosphere that they were able to maintain a sense of the church. But at the same time, it didn’t have the formality of the church.
SHUSTER: So it was just like an auditorium?
LEE: It was just like an auditorium. Yes. Of course they dressed it up a bit. There were the accouterments, the pulpit, the raised platform, etc. But it was like an auditorium. Yes.
SHUSTER: And you said that when you were going there, there were usually about twenty-five students from Wheaton. How many people were there all together?
LEE: Well, it filled up the room, but the room was filled with the whole...my guess was that it would be filled with 300 people. The fire laws wouldn’t permit more people than were in there. In other words, Graham would have liked to serve more people, but he couldn’t given the circumstances that pertained at the time.
SHUSTER: And what did the program consist of? What was...?
LEE: Well, it was mostly Graham giving...giving his little vignettes and then would intersperse these with song. That’s where George Beverly Shea got his reputation. And we called him the insurance man who sang a message. Because as I recall at the time, he was an insurance...I suppose you’d say insurance salesman. I don’t know if he had his own office or not, but he was highly respected for his business. And he was much older than Graham. So he gave a...he gave a kind of maturity to it that if...without him, it would have been a kind of repetition of a Youth for Christ kind of thing run by persons very young without a great deal of church liturgy behind them.
SHUSTER: So there was Graham and there was Shea. Was there anything else on the program?
LEE: Oh yes, there were others. But I... the two that were gaining the greatest attraction were first Graham and then Shea. He had that ability to sing a song that you just felt like it was sung right to you. Yeah.
SHUSTER: Was Graham...
LEE: He’s one hundred..he’s still living...
SHUSTER: Oh yes.
LEE: One hundred and one years old!
SHUSTER: Yes indeed. Going strong. Did you...did Graham preach from a pulpit?
LEE: He would preach from a pulpit, but he wasn’t bound to a pulpit [Shuster laughs]. He would go to the side and he...enjoyed...he enjoyed making these kind of thrusting gestures. But they weren’t the kind that we had begun to resist. For example, the Billy Sunday gestures. He’d take his right arm, make a full hour like thing and slap his hands and so on.
LEE: Graham reduced all of that energy somewhat but still seemed very energetic. So that it wasn’t as much of a...it didn’t seem as much of a show. There wasn’t an attempt to make so much of a physical impression.
SHUSTER: You mentioned that he would talk and then there would be a song, he’d talk and there would be a song...
SHUSTER: So was he preaching evangelistic sermons? Or were these vignettes? Or were they...
LEE: Well, they varied. I don’t remember them all now of course. But his underlying appeal was salvation appeal. That would make it evangelistic. But he would talk about other things.
SHUSTER: Such as?
LEE: Well, family, the attitudes towards government, what was happening in the world politically, if there were some crime or war, or some outstanding event. He enjoyed using a current event to take off. He enjoyed that. And later I realized how much that meant to him...was to make it very current. He had this desire to make it current.
SHUSTER: And of course this was during World War II years...
LEE: World War II was on...
SHUSTER: Did he refer to battles or events in the war?
LEE: Oh, oh yes. Oh yes. And he was...he was concerned about...about all of that. And became more and more concerned about the world political feature for the next ten years. Yeah.
SHUSTER: Do you recall any examples of the things that he was saying during those broadcasts?
LEE: Well, I don’t recall in the Songs in the Night. But of course I do recall later.
SHUSTER: Uh-huh. And we’ll get to those.
SHUSTER: We’ll get to those later.
SHUSTER: Anything else that you’d like to say about the Songs in the Night broadcast?
LEE: It was very effective. There were rumors that Graham wanted to move on. He wanted to build a superstructure, etc. So there were rumors that there was some little tension related to funds. But more likely related to the fact that the war was on and you just couldn’t...you couldn’t build. Even if you had the money, you couldn’t build.
SHUSTER: You mean a superstructure at Western Springs?
LEE: At Western Springs.
SHUSTER: Building on the basement. Yeah.
LEE: In other words, if he was going to stay there, he wanted to move on. He wanted the thing to grow. But at the same time, he was very realistic about the circumstances where so much was put on hold and you couldn’t go ahead with that. In the meantime, Youth for Christ was developing.
LEE: He was a good friend of Torrey Johnson in Chicago. And Torrey Johnson decided to make Youth for Christ a national movement. He had some tension with the Youth for Christ that started in New York that didn’t want to make it a national movement. Let it play out its place, but Torrey wanted to make it a national movement. And Graham turned out to be...a very important cog in Torrey Johnson’s development of Youth for Christ as a national and international movement.
SHUSTER: When.... As you mentioned a group of twenty-five or so Wheaton students would go down to Songs in the Night and you’d be going with them. When did you actually meet Graham personally for the first time?
LEE: The first time I met him personally was that he was invited to speak at a large Baptist church in Oak Park, Illinois. And I was invited to.... I was...kind of a local...I was a student then, but I was sent out a great deal by the college. I suppose with so many men at war, they needed the boys that were left. So I was sent to a lot of very excellent appointments. And one of the appointments...
SHUSTER: As a speaker?
LEE: As speaker usually. But I was also very active musically. And so I was sent on this occasion to lead the music and to be the soloist for his evening. So that’s the first time I met him.
SHUSTER: And Graham was the speaker?
LEE: Graham was the speaker. He was the invited speaker. The church was jam packed (it was a large church). I remember it was right on the edge of Oak Park and either the east boundary that leads into Chicago or the west boundary that led into the western suburbs of Chicago. But that was the evening and we had an excellent time together. We chatted together and felt comradery and also the sense of ministry to that church. I was later invited back to that church on the basis of that night and I went.
SHUSTER: So what was Graham’s physical appearance at that time? What did he look like?
LEE: He...he was tall, slim, nice looking. He had an excellent speaking voice. For some reason, he didn’t have the southern brogue or accent (which I understood entirely). Both of my parents are from Georgia. They met in Akron, Ohio. So I’m a lad of the North, born to parents of the South. So I...I many times heard the...what we called, “The brogue.” The Southern Brogue [Shuster laughs]. The Southern accent. And for some reason, he had the softness of the southern accent, but he didn’t have the tonality of so much of the southern accent. That...when you’ve heard both of them...By the way, the southern accent has greatly reduced from what it was in those days. This is probably because of television and radio where the general American has more and more taken over. You have less of the Eastern accent that you had in the Kennedys for example. So you had this reduced accent. Now the colleagues with Graham who came with him from his boyhood, they still had more of that accent.
SHUSTER: Such as Grady Wilson and T. W. Wilson...
LEE: Grady, T. W. had it more than Grady. T. W. had quite a strong, southern accent. Grady had a strong, not very strong, but a strong southern accent. And T. W. was a cut above that, and Graham was a cut above that. Counting the general American as the direction you wanted to go. So Graham was appealing because one, he dressed like other people in a formal...in a semi, let’s put it that way, in a semi-formal way. He wore...
SHUSTER: Go ahead.
LEE: He wore jackets and tie and so forth.
SHUSTER: As opposed to what?
LEE: But he didn’t, he didn’t wear a robe or.... In other words, he looked like a business man, frankly. A young, energetic, athletic looking businessman. Nice looking. Whenever I got to know him well, I realized what the public probably doesn’t know. And that is he really his health was not robust. He looked like an athlete and in fact he was an athlete. And when we would later, when he became president at Northwestern College, and when we’d go to a faculty program and have a softball game. They wanted him on their side. Not because he was president, but because he was a good ball player. In fact, when he was a lad, he had in back of his mind that he might be a ball player when he grew up. Yeah.
SHUSTER: But we were talking when you first met, and you were saying that he was friendly and an energetic person. Were those your first impressions of him?
LEE: Oh yes. Those were my impressions too. I thought that he...he was...he was like what you would want to be physically as a man. He had that whole kind of aura about him physically and attitude like. Always smiling. Never really taking umbrage at anything, able to give and take with some ease. I only saw him slightly angry one time in all of the times that I was with him.
SHUSTER: How did that happen?
LEE: Well, that was when he was at...he was president of Northwestern College [in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA] and he had invited me to the college to be on the faculty. And he had decided that he would try to make Northwestern (he never said this - I’m saying this on the basis of other evidence than his testimony) but he was trying to reproduce Wheaton. He had an admiration for Wheaton. He appreciated Wheaton. And as a result, he sent a letter to Dr. [Clarence] Nystrom at Wheaton who was head of the speech communications department to recommend someone to come to Wheaton. So Nystrom recommended me. Now I don’t know if he attached my name to the fact that we had been in service earlier or not. We had never discussed that. Well, I guess we did once. And we both smiled about it and went on because we were very much more important things to do. Anyway, so he invited me. I came up for an interview and was immediately approved. Well, he told me what he wanted. But he told me what he wanted in addition to what Wheaton had. And he wanted drama. And Wheaton didn’t have drama. He wanted me to reproduce the forensics at Wheaton. I was a debater whenever I was an undergrad at Wheaton. And Wheaton teams were nationally recognized in debate. Nystrom’s greatest contribution to the students was in forensics, in debate, being able to present evidence well. And conclusions from that evidence. And some eminent fellows went through his debate program. So Graham wanted that but he wanted to add in drama. And in those days, Wheaton didn’t have drama. You wouldn’t go to the movies...
LEE: you wouldn’t go to dances, you wouldn’t go to plays. But he wanted to add that. He thought that was.... So he told me that whenever I set up this speech department, speech and drama department at Northwestern, I was to include drama. And I says “Well, I can do that.” Because I had gone...I realized that really it was a good program. So I could do that, but I would need a budget. So at that time, a man by the name of Jerry Beaven had a lot to do with the combination of all of this. And so Beaven said you couldn’t do it. And Graham says “You’ve got to do it.” And so I said to Graham, “How can I do it when the man that permits me to do it says, ‘You can’t do it?’” So Graham called a meeting of Beaven and Mark Lee and himself and he said to Jerry, he said...he says “Well, we’re going to have drama.” And Jerry said “But there’s no budget for it.” And Graham said “Well, we’re working on that.” And Graham was new to him. Riley had just died.
LEE: Who had had Northwestern for fifty years. So Graham simply looked and when Beaven said, “We can’t have it,” with just a little bit of raising his hackles, Graham said “We will have it and you’ll do it.” And Beaven says “Alright.” [Both laugh]. They had to work that out later between them, I don’t know how that...
SHUSTER: And you say that’s the only time that you really saw him even slightly...
LEE: That’s the only time I ever saw him where he didn’t have a smile on his face and a kind of a problem solving attitude. “We can get to that, we can solve that,” you know.
SHUSTER: Going back to your time at Wheaton. You had come because of Dr. Edman. One of the reasons that you came to Wheaton was because of Dr. Edman. How would you describe him as a leader on campus?
LEE: He was magnificent.
SHUSTER: What made him magnificent?
LEE: He was...he was...he had a PhD in History from Clark University [clears throat]. He had been a missionary. He knew...he knew students. He knew young people. And that made a difference. And....
SHUSTER: What do you mean that “he knew young people?”
LEE: Well, instead of going around like a parent trying to correct you, he would go around with an attitude of expectation. And he expected you to come out, he expected you to become the person that you ought to be. And you could tell that. You could tell that along the way. Now he a had a lot of (I shouldn’t say a lot), he had some who didn’t want what he stood for. But they would not have wanted anyone standing for some of the things that he stood for. Some students that came to Wheaton were rebels, you know?
SHUSTER: So some students disliked him or some students...
LEE: Some students, but they were so few that they tended to crawl away rather than to be unpopular in their resistance. Everybody respected...they...everybody else took out their negatives on others like Mr. Dyrness. Mr. Dyrness was a great man. He...
SHUSTER: Enoch Dyrness [the college registrar].
LEE: Enoch Dyrness. But...any student that wanted to take it out on the administration, they’d take it out on Enoch Dyrness who didn’t deserve it. He didn’t deserve that.
SHUSTER: What would they take out on him?
LEE: Well, just complaints. This wasn’t done or that wasn’t done or we can’t do this or we can’t do that. And they disliked the rules. And Wheaton at the time had a lot of rules. The rules didn’t bother me. I was used to those same rules at Nyack. I went to Nyack immediately after coming to Christ. And...which was so opposite to the way I was before that I thought that was just part of the deal! [Shuster laughs]. So I didn’t fight the rules, they seemed logical to me. But some didn’t like it. There were a few people on the family...on the faculty who didn’t like it. So there was always a small undercurrent that most of the students didn’t know about. But I suppose I knew about them because I was one of the first married students that was given leadership. After my first year, I was elected president of the student council. And I was the first married person who was president of the student council.
SHUSTER: Were there many married students on campus?
LEE: Oh not very many. Well, there were more because of the war. There were some married students coming on. But most of the married students coming on were older and they had other things going. They didn’t participate in the day by day life on campus. They tended to...they hD already established...they had their own churches. In many instances they lived ten, fifteen, twenty miles away from the college...
SHUSTER: They were commuters.
LEE: ...And would travel from their homes to the college. And two out of three students in those days were women because...because the men were at war. So the college...the college was under some pressure to try to keep some balance between the number of men and women in the college. And that didn’t start to correct until from 1946.
SHUSTER: Uh-huh. One of the professors on campus was Alexander Grigola...
LEE: Grigolia, yes.
SHUSTER: Grigolia who had taught anthropology. He had been Graham’s professor, professor of his major. Did you have contact with Dr. Grigola?
LEE: Yes, yes, Grigolia. I was going to major in...
LEE: ...in the same thing. In anthropology.
SHUSTER: Instead of communications?
LEE: He...and Grigolia and I became friends. I suppose again because I was...I was only twenty-one, twenty-two years of age during that year that Grigolia was there. My...so I was the age, the standard age of students, even though I had married early, I had already had church experience, etc. All of which I attribute to the fact that so many of the men must have been at war and so when you can’t get men, you take boys [Shuster laughs] and so I imagine that served to my personal benefit. And Grigolia and I became friends. I spent some time in his home. And he...he was perceived to be a real find for...for Wheaton. He was a...he was a true researcher. And he was torn between research and teaching. In other words, his heart was really in research. And if anything...
SHUSTER: And Wheaton wasn’t really a research institution.
LEE: It wasn’t a research institution. He didn’t really get credit for that at Wheaton. His credit at Wheaton was teaching students. And I could tell it by things he told me when I was in his home. He was married late in life, they had a new baby, he felt like was underpaid (and he was, he was, no question), but that was standard in those days in Christian institutions. “Lord, you keep ‘em humble and we’ll keep ‘em poor,” [Shuster laughs] and...this was a part of it. And he reacted against that. The other faculty members tended...they...their wives or husbands, depending on what it was, also worked. Everybody worked in those days because of the war situation. And so with two incomes...but his wife taking care of a new baby couldn’t work. He wasn’t making that much money. And inside (he didn’t let it show outside except to two or three or four or five people that he knew well) but inside, he was struggling with this. And then you realized that his commitment was to research because his classes had a lot of repetition in them. If you took this class, you got some of the same things you got in this class, some of the same things you got in this class. So he was a first class mind doing what he felt like was a second responsibility instead of his first responsibility. In his home, you’d go in the living...in the dining room, the place was scattered with 4x6, 3x5 cards where he had made notes from all of the research that he had. I still have the book that he used in evolution. [Richard Swann] Lull’s book from Yale University [coughs]. And...
SHUSTER: Would you like to take a break so you can have a glass of water?
LEE: No. That’s part of my problem. I spend all day long working in my study and I don’t talk very much. I’ll do fine. I’ll do fine. Thank you.
SHUSTER: You were talking he had Lull’s book on evolution?
LEE: Lull’s book on evolution. And he referred to it (it was our textbook in the course) he probably referred to it four or five times. And he only had us evaluate one section of it and that was the section in which Lull was dealing with the presuppositions of organic evolution. And when he did this, he went through these presuppositions. And after going through presuppositions (all of which are problematic if you are dealing with it intellectually) he said after that, everything wasn’t so easy. Well, it’s not easy to get the presuppositions. Presuppositions are very difficult to manage. And now he says, “If you...if you grant me those presuppositions, everything isn’t easy.” Well, if...and he liked that. Grigolia liked it, that Lull admitted that we’re dealing with something that’s far out. I wonder what Lull would do now with the evidence that we have available which is...more than...several times more than evidence that was available to him at the time.
SHUSTER: How did Grigolia approach anthropology? How did he teach it?
LEE: Well, he taught...he talked.... He taught Creationism. In other words, we are created by divine fiat and that we should take the Creation story rather literally. But he didn’t teach it with conviction. I think he taught it because it was,,,it was the position that the college held. That God created.... The college did not hold to necessarily six days of creation. Or if they were six days, they could be spotted out over the millennia along the way. But the way he taught it, you felt like he was leaving [phone ringing in background] you felt like he was leaving the whole thing to.... [tape recorder turned off and on]
SHUSTER: Okay, all set? Here we go. Go ahead. Let’s see, you were talking about how he was teaching. You thought he was teaching Creationism no so much from conviction but because it was required.
LEE: Well, I think he was teaching Creation not having studied it from that point of view for a very long time. In other words, the ducks weren’t all lined up yet for him in Creation. But...he was so into his subject and so committed and such a dynamic Christian that the students responded very favorably to him.
SHUSTER: What was his style in the classroom, how did he...?
LEE: Oh his style was European. [Shuster laughs]. He had a brogue. He was from Brest-Litovsk in Poland, Russia (sometimes it belonged to Russia, sometimes it belonged to Poland) [laughs].
SHUSTER: So he had an East European accent?
LEE: That Eastern German...
SHUSTER: East European.
LEE: East European, that’s right, East European accent. You could almost hear some Russian and some Polish in it and some German in it but it was.... But he was understandable. He had been here long enough (and in New York long enough) before coming to Wheaton that...that.... You enjoyed his classes. He gave you substantive material, but it was really quite limited, but he was really so preoccupied with what he was trying to achieve. I think he meant to write on how...how man came to be physically from a Biblical point of view. I don’t know where he would stand today (let’s see, more than sixty years later). I don’t know where he would stand.
SHUSTER: In his memoirs, Billy says that it was at Wheaton where he first had African Americans as classmates. Do you remember black students when you were going to Wheaton?
LEE: No, I do not. It’s probably...I had...we had black students immediately at Northwestern whenever I went from Wheaton and I went directly from Wheaton to Northwestern. There were a few black students. But so many of the black students in those days were involved in the military or in...in companies making products, etc. So many of us at Wheaton had been students who were planning on Christian ministry. And whenever I was to be drafted, I sent to my draft board and said “I don’t want my Christian faith to be used as an excuse for escaping duty.” I did not want to serve in a place where I would have to shoot anybody. Nobody was my enemy personally. But I recognized that we were at war and something had to be done. And I would like to volunteer for medical (in other words, could I drive an ambulance or be a medical aid of some kind?)
SHUSTER: To be a noncombatant.
LEE: Or could I be a chaplain? Well, I didn’t have enough education yet to be chaplain. But my draft board sent me a 4-D and never.... I wrote back again and...and I didn’t receive a response. So my draft board in Akron, Ohio gave me a 4-D and I was never called.
SHUSTER: But there were no, as you recall, no black students....
LEE: No, I don’t recall black students. However, the school was certainly not...there wasn’t.... I never felt any racism. It wasn’t...no black students did not represent any racism. In fact the school was proud that there was a black person in the Underground Railway. In fact, I think it’s a black person that’s buried on campus.
LEE: By Williston Hall.
SHUSTER: Uh-huh. Right. I...he was white, but he was an abolitionist.
LEE: Right. An abolitionist. I was trying to remember that. It seemed like it.
SHUSTER: I don’t know if you have been to Wheaton recently but they refurbished the grave and it’s...
LEE: Oh did they? I haven’t seen that. It was a part of the lawn at Williston at the time.
LEE: I remember that. But the school was proud that it was a part of the Underground Railway during the pre-Civil War Days. That they would stop there on their way to Canada on occasion. So that...in fact, I was on the forensic team and I was asked to give the oratory for the team. And my oratory was “Black Gold.” The need to fit the...Negro race into the main stream of American life. That was my assignment and...it was very Well, received.
SHUSTER: When you were a student at Wheaton did Graham come back to speak or for any other reasons?
LEE: I was a part of the student leadership so that there were times when I was distracted from chapel. So he could have been, I don’t believe he was. But he could have been a chapel speaker during that time. I do...I do not remember that. The only two occasions before I got to Northwestern was the one in Oak Park and the one in...the other time was...let’s see, the time in Oak Park [pauses] and the time in Western Springs.
SHUSTER: Okay. Those were the two times that you actually had contact with him?
SHUSTER: Of course Youth for Christ was getting started as you have said when you were a student at Wheaton. During that same time that you were at Wheaton, Youth for Christ was getting started in Chicago. Did you have any involvement in any of their rallies such as their rally on Memorial Day in Soldier Field in 1945?
LEE: No. I went to one of those.
LEE: But as a student and considered older than I was, I was invited to speak at a lot of Youth for Christ, although when I came to Minnesota even more because it was very popular during that period. So I was often times busy at the same time he was busy. Now his assignments were larger than mine but we would have similar assignments in different places.
SHUSTER: Sure. You mentioned that you did go to the Memorial Day rally in Soldier Field?
LEE: Well, I was at...
SHUSTER: There was one in ‘45 and one in ‘46.
LEE: Yes and I don’t remember which one I was at. I do remember Chief Whitefeather [both laugh]. He was at that rally.
SHUSTER: I think that was in ‘45 then.
LEE: Alright then I was at the ‘45.
SHUSTER: Why don’t you describe the rally a little bit, what it was like.
LEE: It was huge! I think there were...whatever number Soldier Field would have held in those days (which was upwards of 100,000 people) and it was full. It was full. And I knew Whitefeather from Nyack days.
SHUSTER: Who was he? Why don’t you say a little bit about him?
LEE: About Chief Whitefeather?
LEE: He was a...he really had been fully acclimated into Caucasian-American culture. But he used his Indian, American-Indian background where it was useful. And it was useful as an evangelist. So he would dress so that it was obvious that he was Indian. And on that day of that rally, he went all the way from goalpost to goalpost in his regalia, which included a headdress of feathers. It was very interesting. It was so busy, I couldn’t get to him after the service. But I was going to kid him, about he overdid it on that particular day. But it was quite impressive.
SHUSTER: You say Chief Whitefeather, was that his name or...?
LEE: I have forgotten what his.... He would officially go as Chief Whitefeather. And he was a chief, the son of a chief. I don’t suppose he was a chief anymore.
SHUSTER: What people...?
LEE: I don’t know what tribe. I did at the time, but I don’t remember. And...it was.... We had a lot of characters in those days. And sometimes they would come to Wheaton, and afterwards Don Lonie would stand up on the Stupe stairs and mimic the chapel speaker with all of these idiosyncracies which was great fun at the college.
SHUSTER: The Stupe of course was the ice cream shop on campus.
LEE: Yes, the Stupe. I was a student manager.
LEE: Yeah, I took over at 4:30 in the afternoon until 10:30 at night. And...so I was invited to...by the administration. Mr. Benjamin was the business manager at the time.
SHUSTER: But you mentioned that one of the students would stand on the Stupe steps and imitate...
SHUSTER: With the memorial day rally, do you recall anything else about it?
LEE: It was very, you know, very energetic. Very responsive. People responding.... Billy Graham had...this ability to draw the net. One lady told me, she knew that I knew Graham. And she said “Would you...do you realize that Mr. Graham has the gift of the Holy Spirit for evangelism?” And I said “Yes, I realize that.” [Shuster laughs]. And she says “I think he could...” she actually said this, “I believe he could preach on garbage can lids and people would come to Christ.”
SHUSTER: And when...when was this? What was she referring.... I mean what occasion was she referring to?
LEE: Well, I was speaking in her church...
SHUSTER: Oh I see.
LEE: ...and so she came up...
SHUSTER: And she had heard him?
LEE: ...I was from Northwestern, Graham was the president at Northwestern. And so she came up to me and says she wanted me to know that she appreciated Graham. And she believed and I believed (up to this day I believe) that he is the twentieth century epitome of a person with a gift of evangelism.
SHUSTER: During the Memorial Day rally, Percy Crawford was the main speaker.
LEE: Yes, and I knew Percy Crawford. In fact, I was invited when he resigned at King’s College, I was invited to consider the presidency of King’s College. But Percy...Percy was very attractive. He was very effective. I remember how he had made an impression on me at Nyack. He spoke at Nyack when I was a student there and at Wheaton when I was a student there. And...he was quite effective. But never as effective.... He had some...he had some baggage that Graham didn’t have.
SHUSTER: Such as?
LEE: Well, part of it was related to...his image, his ambitions, his hope for his organization. There was...there was a group of men that I respected and still respect who were trying to accomplish certain kinds of things that Graham didn’t go for. For example, whenever I was invited to interview for the presidency of King’s College, I said “The problem with me with Kings’ was that you’ve been in three locations and you’ve had three different presidents, each one of whom built a gymnasium. Not a chapel, not a dormitory, but a gymnasium. And I don’t think there’s much of a future for a college that will do that.” Now King’s is in New York City at...
SHUSTER: Empire State Building, I believe.
LEE: Yes and has about 450 students. Has a new president who is I think a member of the Catholic church but very evangelical and committed to the creeds and is doing quite well. But part of it is he was never given the kind of foundation that Wheaton would have or many other colleges that I could name. I’m a contender that the greatest...the greatest success of the evangelical church in the twentieth century are the Christian colleges. I think that’s the most marked success of the evangelical church.
SHUSTER: Going back to that Memorial Day rally, do you recall Percy Crawford’s talk there or his sermon that he preached...
LEE: No I don’t recall that.
SHUSTER: Anything else about the rally that you might want to mention?
LEE: No, I would consider it successful. It was a news item. But...rallies come and go.
LEE: They don’t have deep roots. Youth for Christ now takes a totally different approach. And a lot of other movements that I’ve known in my time, even the men’s...ten, twelve, thirteen years ago, we thought that this men’s movement would now...
SHUSTER: Promise Keepers?
LEE: Yeah, Promise Keepers. But it’s...it’s tended to fall back, which is to say that I believe that anything that’s going to last has got to have the support of the church. And if it doesn’t have the support of the church and if it doesn’t minister to the needs of the people of the church in all the world, in my opinion it won’t last. There will be a...there’ll be a good movement, but it won’t last.
SHUSTER: Now when Billy was at...a student at Wheaton before you arrived, he had been the pastor at the United Gospel Tabernacle downtown. He graduated and left but the United Gospel Tabernacle continued for some years. Did you ever attend that or have...?
LEE: I attended a couple of times. But it tended to fade. And it had already started that whenever I was there.
SHUSTER: How do you mean it tended to fade?
LEE: Well, people began to go to the other churches. The other churches in Wheaton became better. College Church, Bible Church, the Presbyterian Church, other churches were founded. Bostrom tried to found the Christian Missionary Alliance Church which drew some of these people. A man by the name of Bostrom, Harvey was a graduate of...
SHUSTER: Harvey Bostrom?
SHUSTER: Was his name Harvey Bostrom?
LEE: Harvey was the son of the Bostrom that tried to start the Alliance church in Wheaton. Ultimately, the core of that group did develop the Alliance church on the south side of Wheaton, which I believe is going quite well. So the established churches in Wheaton got more interested in the students. And they offered programs that were helpful to the students. So that whenever I was invited by Bostrom, invited by the Tabernacle and so on, I already had been invited by Evan Welsh at College...
SHUSTER: At College Church.
LEE: ... at College Church. And I was leading his [Shuster coughs] music in the evenings. We had an evening service. I don’t suppose they had that service in the old public way anymore.
SHUSTER: College Church still has an evening service.
LEE: Do they have an evening? Oh I was the song leader for the evening service and was paid by Evan Welsh himself. I don’t know if he paid it out of his own pocket or not. But they showed more and more interest in the students so that the students strengthened those churches but those churches also strengthened the students.
SHUSTER: So why was the United Gospel Tabernacle fading?
LEE: Well, I think it faded because...it didn’t have an attachment. When Graham was there...the students tended to go there because they were attracted by this young, vibrant...very vocal and competent with the language. He didn’t murder the language. He had control...good control of English. And I think that when he was gone, the fire cracker...the one that was the magnet to the group faded. So that by the time I was there (which was very shortly after Graham left) it already had lost its student appeal. Some students, but it had already lost much of its appeal. As I remember. Now maybe someone else will give another perception of that. But I was very close to the students. And I was also close to the faculty. At that particular time, in fact I went to the faculty...I went to the administration with the idea that I knew this underlying feeling in some of the students. So I asked the administration...
SHUSTER: Underlying feeling of...?
LEE: Of negativism. Kind of like negativism. About the whole...thing. By the way, you’ll always have that. Give me a week and I’ll find it today. It’s got to be there. That’s just part of institutional life. I’m not sure it’s a bad thing. It’s bad for the individuals, but it’s not bad for the institution. But this underlying thing.... In fact, ultimately a book came out. It was sent to me and I didn’t like it so I threw it away. I don’t even have it in my.... Criticizing the college which was a distortion! Just a distortion.
SHUSTER: Is that Steps Toward Apostasy at Wheaton College [by Wilhelm Ernst Schmitt, 1966] ?
LEE: Yes, you know all of that. It was just a distortion. Anyway, the...the students...I wanted to evaluate the faculty because there were certain faculty people that constantly came up that certain students were criticizing. And there was this cream up here of the faculty. And this created a kind of tension. I think it created some tension in the faculty. Well, they didn’t know if they wanted to do it, but I pressed the point and...
SHUSTER: You say you wanted to evaluate them. Do you mean you wanted to evaluate them for the administration or you wanted to evaluate them publicly or...?
LEE: I wanted to evaluate the faculty from the standpoint of the students.
SHUSTER: You wanted to do this publicly or you wanted to send a report to the administration?
LEE: I sent a report to the administration hoping that they would permit me to give a response to my report to both the students and the faculty which they did. They were afraid and they were unsure, but it turned out to be a good thing.
SHUSTER: So it was a public report?
LEE: It came out as a public report, but I was very careful about my reporting. Because I knew...I now realize that it was a bit presumptuous. It should have been...it should have been done another way. It did lead to faculty evaluation, but happily, I didn’t make a fool of myself. But I could have, easily. But Edman went with it and ultimately the faculty agreed to it and it came out like I thought it would come out. The most popular teachers tended to come out number one, the less two, three, four five. But there were very, very few, very few that didn’t really come out strong. And it wasn’t long until those that didn’t come out strong were no longer there. And it wasn’t very long until those at the top were no longer there.
SHUSTER: Because they were so popular they went on to other schools?
LEE: Yes. But they...the...they were also negative about...the two that made the top were sufficiently negative about the college...culture. That is to say for example, no drama, no films, no dancing rules that they didn’t want to stay in a Christian institution that they interpreted as being a bit legal. So one of them went to one college and the other one.... The two that came at the top.... And by the way, they were there my senior year. I did this on the summer that I was elected the student council president. So I immediately took a course from each of them [Shuster laughs] to make sure that.... I had not had a course from them before. I now took a course from them, and there was no question about it. They were super...they were super teachers.
SHUSTER: Who were the two most popular teachers?
LEE: Well, one of them was [Lauren A.] King who taught...who taught...literature. One of them was Singer, Greg Singer, who taught history [Charles G. Singer]. A third one was...became a friend of mine. Clarence (oh it’ll come to me). He and I worked together. And in fact ultimately he became the acting president at Whitworth College and I would lead the acting academic dean. Clarence Simpson.
LEE: And Simpson had the same feelings that Singer and King had. They were all excellent, excellent, excellent teachers. And Simpson who became...he and I became friends. He died recently. And also did his wife in their 90s in Seattle.
SHUSTER: Was he related to A.B. Simpson?
LEE: No, no. No, no, no. No relation at all. And Clarence Simpson went to Whitworth and made a name. Marvelous impression. Marvelous.
SHUSTER: Going back to the United Gospel Tabernacle, did that...cease operations while you were still in Wheaton or...?
LEE: I don’t remember that. It...it...as I remember it, the group that Bostrom tried to develop took some of those people and maybe for a time...there was a combination. I don’t remember. I would like to have that filled in for me. I don’t remember exactly how all of that came out. All I know is that whenever I showed up, the Tabernacle no longer had quite the appeal that it had and that we knew about when Graham was there. [Tape recorder turned off]
SHUSTER: (I’m going to start the thing again.) Why don’t we talk a little bit now about your time at Northwestern. You mentioned earlier how...Nystrom had been influential in...when Graham had asked for his advice on someone for communications that he mentioned you...
LEE: That’s right.
SHUSTER: What year was that?
LEE: Well, that was...that was in the spring of 1948.
LEE: And...so just after that, I went up...came up for an interview and was immediately invited.
SHUSTER: Now Graham of course had only become president less than a few months before...
LEE: Yes, when Riley died.
LEE: But Riley...Riley was insistent that he be president. I don’t think he ever really wanted to be president. I don’t think he felt called to be president. But he couldn’t resist Riley. And when he made his promise, he tried to keep it.
SHUSTER: Uh-huh. What...when you arrived at Northwestern, how would you describe the school? What was...what was it like?
LEE: Well...you know I didn’t have that much experience by that time. I...I didn’t have my master’s degree yet. I had finished it. I had finished all the class work, but I hadn’t done the thesis yet.
SHUSTER: Was that at...what school was that at?
LEE: That was with Wheaton.
SHUSTER: At wheaton, yes.
LEE: At the graduate school at Wheaton. Which I finished and got the M.A. in ‘52, while I was at Northwestern. But it wasn’t long until I realized that this was a model that wasn’t going to work. And it’s...
SHUSTER: The model of Wheaton for Northwestern?
LEE: No, the model of Wheaton would have worked. But that...it was Northwestern Schools. There were three distinct schools. There was a Bible college, there was a liberal arts college, and there was a seminary. All of it compacted, basically, in one building with a couple of dormitories. A library was later built. But it was trying to do too much with too little.
SHUSTER: Same faculty for all three schools?
LEE: No, and that was a problem too. Because I was told that I was to teach in the liberal arts college because my appropriate...my appropriate interest was liberal arts...
LEE: ...I was not to teach in the Bible college. And I could teach in the seminary. But that led to a kind of...a kind of competition. Was the Bible college getting as much money as the liberal arts college was getting as the seminary was getting? Did the...did the Bible college have the quality of faculty that was in the liberal arts college? Graham seemed to focus on the liberal arts college, and if I had been president I would have focused on the liberal arts college too. Because there was no question after the war that the church wanted a larger curriculum than the Bible college would offer. They could get everything that the Bible college would offer in the Christian liberal arts college plus all the other. Therefore, why not have a liberal arts college? So without Bible colleges...all Bible colleges knowing it, beginning at the end of the war was the end of that marvelous Bible college movement. Because there was a continuing feeling that churches could provide what they wanted in a Bible college. And get the other things they wanted in a Christian liberal arts college. But it took a while for that to take hold. Moody Bible Institute held to its position and as a result survived, a few others survived. A formation of Bible colleges made the Association of Bible College Accrediting. But that wouldn’t...that wasn’t going to get the job done. But for some reason, this tension between the three entities (all of whom were made up of wonderful people) just wasn’t going to make it. There wasn’t enough money for it. There wasn’t enough faculty for it. There wasn’t enough space for it. There wouldn’t.... Ultimately you’ve got to decide what you’re going to be. You can’t be a three-headed hydra and get away with it. It won’t happen. So that you take the college university model rather than the Bible college, the liberal arts college, and the seminary model. So there you are.
SHUSTER: And you say that was your impression that Graham was favoring the liberal arts college?
LEE: Oh I think so! I think so.
SHUSTER: ...As a model.
LEE: That was his model. That’s what he had gotten from Wheaton. He appreciated it. He wanted to build that model. There were others who were trying to do the same thing. Westmont College wanted to be the Wheaton of the West for example.
LEE: I was invited to be interviewed for six or eight of these colleges as president or as members [sic] of the faculty. And I realized how many of them (in their discussions with me) admired the Wheaton model. And by the way, I was...I was invited to...to interview as president of Wheaton in the same pattern of interviewing that brought [Dr. Richard] Chase to Wheaton. I was interviewed in San Francisco just before Chase was interviewed in Los Angeles, La Mirada.
SHUSTER: So that was 1980 or...?
LEE: Well, let’s see, I was fifty-seven years old because I realized the interview was over. When I looked at them (I was interviewed at the airport at the Hilton Hotel at San Francisco airport) and I said “I’m surprised at you fellows,” (Ken Wessner was one of the men that was there) “I’m surprised that you’re interviewing me for president of Wheaton.” “Well, why are you surprised? You’ve been recommended by several people.” And I said “because I’m fifty-seven years old.” And I could tell...
SHUSTER: [Sneezes] Excuse me.
LEE: ...just like that. Just at that moment that it was over. And...
SHUSTER: They hadn’t realized that you were fifty-years old or they didn’t want you bringing up the question of age?
LEE: Well, I was fifty-seven years old. I says “I am fifty-seven years old.” (That was thirty years ago.) And he...or whenever fifty-seven or fifty-eight. It was one of those. And..he says “Why do you say that?” And I said “Because Wheaton has had long term presidents. And if I went next year and if you followed the idea that a man would probably retire at sixty-five, then I’d be there for only seven years. That’s short for Wheaton.” He laughed. I said “What are you laughing about?” And he put a piece of paper in front of me and they had the...they had the criteria for the new president. And one of them was if possible, he should be under fifty-five years of age. And I says “I agree with that.” And he says “You could sue us if we had...” [Shuster laughs] and I said “No, not me.” I said “I think one of the strengths of Wheaton has been its long term presidents. That’s one of the strengths.”
SHUSTER: With...with Northwestern, do you recall much of the hiring period? Do you recall your interview with Graham or...with other people at the school?
LEE: Yes. It was very modest. It was not well accomplished. My interview with him...and with the others (with [Gerald] Beaven and [Oscar E.] Sanden) was rather perfunctory. Graham relied on them since they were his men.
SHUSTER: Beaven and Sanden.
LEE: Sanden was academic dean. I would be working under Sanden. And so he relied on them. But they didn’t...they didn’t carry that through. And as a result, the appointments...even though they were very good people, they believed the right things. They...they were real students. Not scholars. They were students. They were very mature students. They did some scholarly things. But it didn’t come through that way. And the appointments that were made...the man that was to stand in the place of Graham when he became...when he became a world citizen, aworld preacher, aworld evangelist. You knew in your heart of hearts that he couldn’t stay with this local situation.
SHUSTER: Graham couldn’t.
LEE: Graham couldn’t.
LEE: But he tried to get people in there that would help him keep his promise to Riley. And they failed him. They really failed him.
LEE: By the way, they didn’t want to fail him. But they failed him in that they weren’t quite brought in the right way. They should have met with the faculty...
SHUSTER: So there wasn’t a sufficiently rigid standard of application or interviewing or...?
LEE: No, no. No. It didn’t...they weren’t put through the mill. And you can put a man through the mill and still make a mistake. But you’re almost bound to make a mistake if you don’t put him through the mill [both laugh]. Yeah.
SHUSTER: So...you came up in ‘48 then as...?
LEE: In ‘48 I came up as head of the speech communications department.
SHUSTER: How would you describe Graham as an administrator? As a president? You talked...touched on that a little bit.
LEE: Well, he...again, he was very personable. He would listen to you. He would want to do what you wanted to do. He had that feeling inside. “Well, you’re a professional, you ought to know what is needed to be done. Now let’s get it done” kind of thing. But at the same time he’s being tugged now. Because I no sooner got there then Los Angeles happened. And no sooner did that happen that he had to open the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association office [founded in Minneapolis in 1950]. So the office was over here and the college was there. He had to be there and he had to be here. So that you could see that...here you have a ton truck with a five ton load [Shuster laughs] you know, that we can only carry the load that a human being can carry. Well, he’s not going to be able to carry that. He had to raise money. And he told me personally “I can raise money for just about anything God wants me to do - except higher education.” He repeated that to other people who repeated it back to me. So I know it’s verifiable.
SHUSTER: So he wasn’t very successful as a fundraiser for the college?
LEE: No. No. And one of his problems was that he couldn’t find a man that could be! So there are people who can do that. But I was president of a college for seventeen years. And I had an awful time finding a man that had...that knew how to do it. And it ended up that most of the time I had to do it myself. But to do it, you have to know how to do it, you have to do it over a long period of time, you have to involve yourself with those people. You have to prove to them that you care about their concerns and their needs. And sometimes, it comes down that only the president can do that, see? Only the president can do that. But he’s got to have people that will recommend people to him so that he can get to them.
SHUSTER: So you’ve said that as an administrator that (besides the fact all he had all sorts of other duties that he had to be concerned about) that Graham was personable and he also gave his subordinates authority. What were some other characteristics about him as an administrator?
LEE: Well, of course he had this great image. He’s able to put forth this image of energy and belief. You didn’t believe that there was a one percent loss in his convictions. There just wasn’t any loss in his convictions. And the students loved him. You know they...they...in fact, that’s one reason why he should not be president of the college. That’s because they got caught up, not in education, but in evangelism. And that...that was in their future. And they should be interested in it. They should pray for it. They should give to it if they can. They should support it where they find it. But they were there for education. And instead, the radio KGIS broke in that...while he was in Los Angeles. And all of these things so that after a while, I felt like knocking on the door. “Hey, do we have a college here?” [Shuster laughs] you know, kind of thing. Because the students go where the attraction is. And...when you have a world break out in evangelism, that’s where the attraction is.
SHUSTER: Sure. What kind of contact did you have with him during these years?
LEE: Well...well, I had...good contact with him. It was all professional. But it was also personal. You couldn’t be with him without feeling personal friendship.
SHUSTER: Did he meet with individual faculty members periodically? I mean how did you...?
LEE: No, he didn’t...that’s isn’t the way.... Well, what happened was...that when Los Angeles broke out [the meetings in Los Angeles in the fall of 1949], all of the sudden everybody was at his door. They wanted to do all kinds of things. They wanted to write, they wanted him to go on the radio, they wanted him to do all kinds of things. And so he said to George Wilson, he said to George, “I need somebody to help me.”
SHUSTER: He needed a second...in command...?
LEE: George Wilson of course was...one of these fellows that could carry a lot of buckets at the same time, you know. And so George says “I’d talk to Mark Lee if I were you.” Because I had written for George Wilson. George Wilson was the editor of the Northwestern Magazine. And he had asked me to write for him and I did. And it turned out to be a popular series. Even Pat Zondervan of the Zondervan publishing company (on the basis of the articles that I wrote in the Northwestern magazine) contacted me to write for Zondervan.
SHUSTER: What kind of series was it? Bible study or...?
LEE: Oh it was actually a series of sermons.
LEE: And I adapted them to the eye rather than the ear. And they went over with the people who took the...and the magazine was taken by about all the Baptists in all of North South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. And Iowa. Northern Iowa. And so...
SHUSTER: So Graham was looking for somebody to help him write sermons and speeches?
LEE: Yes, because by this time ABC [national radio network] wanted him on the air. Well, he couldn’t...there was no way that he could do everything that he was asked to do.
LEE: He wanted to do everything that would contribute to evangelism. He wanted to do everything really at the college that had to do with education. He can’t do it. Not without a terrific team. And he didn’t have the team to do it at the college. He did have the team to do it in evangelism. There’s no question about that. He couldn’t have chosen better men than he chose (they were almost all male). And he just couldn’t have chosen a better team. Just couldn’t have chosen. I mean, Beverly Shea and the man that led his music...
SHUSTER: Was Tedd Smith...oh, Cliff Barrows!
LEE: Yeah. And all of these men. They were.... George Wilson, he couldn’t have beaten George Wilson. George Wilson had kept Northwestern alive when Riley was fading.
SHUSTER: What exactly was Wilson’s position at the college?
LEE: Wilson’s position was just about everything you know [both laugh]. He...treasurer was one of them, he was to take care of all of these little situations like publishing the magazines...
SHUSTER: So he was a trouble shooter?
LEE: What, what right did he...No, it was sent out to a printer who was a good friend of the college.
SHUSTER: So he was a trouble shooter for Riley at the college?
LEE: He was a double [sic] shooter for Riley. He knew all the business people. He knew how to talk. He knew the things that interested them and what the relationship was. So on this morning Gra...
LEE: Wilson. I had talked to Graham over various things about the college. And Graham told Wilson “Call Mark and tell him to...I want to have breakfast with him.” So the next morning we had breakfast at the King Cole Hotel. Wilson was there, Graham was there, I was there, and Bob [tapping]...oh what was his name? He became the president of King’s College.
SHUSTER: Cook. Bob Cook.
LEE: Bob Cook. Bob Cook was there. The four of us had breakfast...
SHUSTER: But Bob Cook was not on the faculty...
LEE: No. All of these fellows, they’d come to town and they would be part of anything that Graham would do.
SHUSTER: All the Youth for Christ leaders.
LEE: All the Youth for Christ leaders. And Bob Cook and I had known each other. We had both been interviewed for King’s College and he had went to King’s College. Same thing happened to King’s College that was happening at Northwestern because Bob Cook was occupied with his writing and with YFC and with all of the other things. And as a result, King’s College (my daughter-in-law) was a student there. And etc. It just didn’t work. It just didn’t work. And...
SHUSTER: So the meeting that you had with Graham at breakfast...
LEE: Graham at morning...and so George Wilson started and said “I recommend Mark Lee for your writing...”
SHUSTER: Specifically writing radio scripts.
LEE: Writing radio scripts. So Graham very quickly told me what he wanted. He wanted me to write the alternate Sundays. He said “I’m going to try to do my own every other Sunday. And you do every other Sunday.” And so that’s the way we did it. And it went very well and it became the basis for Peace with God. In 1953.
SHUSTER: His book.
LEE: The book. I have the book. He sent me one of the first copies and interviewed...scribbled...
LEE: ...kindness to me in it. And he put the names in the credits of the people that helped him. Now thirty years later when it was published, the names were left out because he said the people who helped me know who they are [Shuster laughs]. I think he didn’t want to go through that...all that again. An advanced stage. So that’s what I did. I wrote those manuscripts and I turned them into the secretary. And he typed them out the way he wanted them typed out. And that went for a little over a year.
SHUSTER: Was...were those manuscripts of the whole program or was it just his sermon?
LEE: It could be for the whole program. He told me on occasion, he took the manuscript and used it on The Hour of Decision without reading it ahead of time. So there were times when he would use the whole manuscript. But if there was time, he would read the whole manuscript, write in what he wanted...to edit in the manuscript. But there were two things that he wanted no matter what I wrote. That he wanted to do, if he felt like it. One was “what news item of the last week become the important? Why should you listen to me today,” kind of thing you see [Shuster laughs]. And then his marvelous ability to draw the net at the end. To get the decision that he wanted out of what he gave.
SHUSTER: So what....
LEE: And I’ve preached all over the world and met people all over the world who heard his radio, heard him in places...gave their lives to the Lord, etc, etc, etc. There is no question that he was effective in what he tried to do.
SHUSTER: So what he wanted in every sermon was a current news hook and an evangelistic appeal.
LEE: He wanted...Well, he wanted current news and then whatever my topic was, he adapted to that topic in the news. Generally. Or he’d make some transition that he’d get away with [Shuster laughs] between the news item and what I had written about, see. For example, I was checking knowing that you and I would talk, I was checking in Peace with God of one of the vignettes that I put in there. And seeing if there was any change between it on page seventy-two of the first edition and it comes out on seventy-six of the next edition which means that he didn’t put in a great deal of material in change between the thirty years between the two publications. Or more than thirty years.
SHUSTER: So what did your vignette change much or...?
LEE: No. No, it was the same. It was a very touching one and it involved Wheaton.
SHUSTER: Now of course you were writing these sermons, you weren’t writing them for yourself, you were writing them for Graham. Did you have to adapt it so it sounded like him, so it was his voice?
LEE: Oh, oh yes. I adapted...I studied his style...
SHUSTER: So what was his style like that you...?
LEE: Oh his style was to be very clear. There was no attempt to be academic. Don’t use words that people would question or would have to go to the dictionary for. I had...I worked entirely by his style. So that I wrote it.... it was his. By the time I got through, it was really his. He was working through my mind, I was working through his mind. It would be like a writer. And he had other writers after me and entirely appropriate. You can’t do all of the things he was asked to do and prepare and be sure of yourself relative to that. So that’s the way that worked.
SHUSTER: Did he ever send your sermons back to be re-written or did you just re-write them...?
LEE: No he took every one of them just the way I gave them. And he...he would make slight adaptations where I may have missed something along the way. And I...I just re-wrote something yesterday for somebody on Sunday that had to have it this morning. And they sent it back to me e-mail and put in a little...just one little change but they wanted me to know that they had made one little change [Shuster laughs].
SHUSTER: [Pauses] Now in 1951 they also started doing Hour of Decision on television. Did you have...?
LEE: No I had nothing to do with...
SHUSTER: So you were before the radio...?
LEE: No. But I would go with him on occasion. For example, a famous radio program...what was it...it’ll come to me the name of the program. And they invited Graham, Graham invited me to go along.
SHUSTER: Was that The Breakfast Club?
LEE: No, it was...it was...oh...it was very famous on Sunday afternoons.
SHUSTER: There was The Chicago Evening Club.
LEE: Yes! No...no, it wasn’t The Chicago Evening Club but I know what you’re talking about...
SHUSTER: But it was something similar?
LEE: But it was in Chicago, and it was...it was listened to by millions of people. And I remember we were standing there with the producers. And I forget, I think it was CBS in this case.
SHUSTER: This was a radio program?
LEE: It was a radio program. Radio was still dominant. And they said to Graham (I was standing next to Graham) and they said to Graham “Is there anyone you believe in the audience who is here to embarrass you?” And Graham said “I believe so.” And he turned to somebody. It was either to George Wilson or Beaven. And he turned...I think so. And he turned to them and said “Would you give them a list?” And he gave them a list of five men that might be in the audience that are there to embarrass him. Because there was an open question and answer period at the end. Round table, round table is in the title [of the program, possible The University of Chicago Round Table]. And lo and behold, those five men were in the audience. And they had handed in questions. And whoever the producer was simply pulled those questions.
SHUSTER: Were these religious opponents of Graham or...?
LEE: Oh yes. Yes. And I know who they are. And...and who they represented, you know. They actually represented a very small group in a denomination and they were...they opposed Graham for the reason that Graham was trying to include more churches than they would include. When Graham would hold a meeting, he wouldn’t cancel out any church.
LEE: You could have a Lutheran church there, you could have a Presbyterian church there, you could have a...Reform church there. Anybody, anybody is invited. And the church that loves Christ can be a part of this group. They didn’t like that. They wanted it very, very much.
SHUSTER: So this is more of a separatist, fundamentalist...
LEE: And they tended to belong to one denomination.
SHUSTER: Which denomination was that?
LEE: General Association of Regular Baptist.
SHUSTER: Going back to Northwestern, as you were...so you were doing some sermon writing for Graham. Did you have other assignments for him?
LEE: No...No. What happened was I had other assignments but the assignments came from Northwestern to me to Graham. The faculty knew that I had known Graham, that I had worked with Graham. So they elected me their representative to Graham.
LEE: At the particular time, things had become very tense. So I was flown by the faculty from Northwestern to Washington D.C. I had to be cleared to go up to the such and such floor. Nobody else could get off that floor unless they were approved. They were protecting Graham. While I was there, members...
SHUSTER: This was in a hotel?
LEE: A hotel. Yeah. While I was there, people from Congress would come in. They wanted to get a picture with Graham to send back home [Shuster laughs] or senators wanted a picture with Graham to send back home. So I was given a room on the floor with Graham. And I was talking...I was to talk with him because of the tension that had happened with the...with the scattered approach of the persons that were supposed to be in administration at Northwestern.
SHUSTER: So the faculty had wanted you to represent them and give him their viewpoint to Graham on...
LEE: That’s right. And Graham accepted that. So the faculty insisted on paying all my expenses so that I would represent them and not Graham. They knew that I admired Graham and had worked with Graham. So I flew to Washington D.C. That day, the physician told him that he couldn’t get out of bed. He had to rest and he had to have this diet if he was to preach this evening in the Armory. And so Graham says “Do you mind working with me in bed?” And I said “No, I don’t mind it at all.” So we spent the whole day working.... That evening he had to preach to thousands of people in the Armory. But he was weak, he was...I suppose I should simply say ill, perhaps bordering on the flu. He had to have a certain diet. And people don’t know he was never really...in my...in my observation and understanding...he was never really robust...you know? He could...he seemed like it when he preached. And that evening he preached marvelously, I went to the service. He preached marvelously that evening. You would never know that he spent the whole day recuperating in bed. And his message was clear. Despite the fact that we had spent the whole day talking about problems related to Northwestern. In other words, his time was used up not in preparation for the evening but for...
SHUSTER: For Northwestern.
SHUSTER: Yeah he preached I think this must have been in 1952 because that was when he had...
LEE: This was 1952, I think, yes.
SHUSTER: Towards the end of his time at Northwestern.
LEE: End of his time.
SHUSTER: So how did that meeting go? I mean...
LEE: Well...between us it went very well. Very, very well. But what happened was...I’m sure he decided (without telling me) he decided “I’m going to resign. Because I can’t do all of this. These are good people, they need an answer, they’re not getting what they want. So I’m going to resign.” So he came back after the Washington D.C. thing and resigned and invited me to the resignation.
LEE: And explained to the board that I was invited and he wanted me there. That way I could report to the.... For some reason they trusted me not to distort what happened. To be sympathetic to both sides or all sides. It was...it was not just two sides, there were three or four or five sides.
SHUSTER: Going back...I mean this is at the very end of his presidency. Going back to when you arrived, you said that shortly after he arrived was Los Angeles and then.... How was...how did the campus hear about Los Angeles or how did...how did events, how did campus see the events in Los Angeles when that meeting was going on.
LEE: Well, let me...it was announced in chapel but the news hit worldwide, you know? It became front page news. And here was “a Gabriel in gaberdine”. “A Gabriel in gaberdine” preaching the gospel drawing thousands of people, even eminent people. And of course, what was it, Zamperini and a number of people came...
SHUSTER: Jim Vaus and...
SHUSTER: Stuart Hamlen.
LEE: And I got to know some of these fellows. And by the way, they didn’t represent themselves as Well, as they should have relative to Graham and created some tension.... Some of them did very well, don’t get me wrong. But there were some, especially the country singer...
SHUSTER: Stuart Hamlen.
LEE: Stewart Hamlen who sometimes, the way he talked distorted it. But Stewart Hamlin, he came to the college and.... [Pauses] All of these people math a swath that really...didn’t belong to education. Formal education. They belonged to news and life as it now is, not what you’re preparing your life to become, ultimately. So there was a lot of...a lot of that involved.
SHUSTER: So were they...talked at Northwestern they didn’t really fit in or they...?
LEE: Well, they did and they didn’t. It was...there was nothing about...there’s nothing about goal setting related to the development of your soul-mind. It was all...it was all kind of...it was all personal and “razz-matazz” kind of thing.
LEE: And some complaint...for example Hamlin complained that “boy these church people start to use me.” That’s what he actually said. “Boy did some of these church people start to use me.” Church people have always tried to use Christians, you know? [Shuster laughs]. It...it’s a misunderstanding that.... And gives a wrong impression along the way. So it was unfortunate. But some of the...like Vaus, he and I really hit it off. I got to know these fellows but...but I wasn’t interested in developing Hamlen’s approach. He wanted to talk about his famous horse...
LEE: ...and all these kinds of things. That didn’t interest me. That wasn’t a part of my life. And.... But there’s a place for that, you know? But we were trying to get the kids with their feet on the ground and learn literature and history and science, Bible....
SHUSTER: After the...immediately after Los Angeles, Graham came right back to Minneapolis. Do you recall anything about...?
LEE: Well, he came back in the midst of the campaign. He came back because of KTIS.
LEE: In other words, he could...we couldn’t get it on the air. If Riley had been alive, it would have gone on the air.
SHUSTER: Why don’t you give a little background on KTIS.
LEE: Well, before the war, Riley (William Belle Riley, pastor of First Baptist Church fifty years, almost fifty years) he wanted to have a radio station. So he had Loren Bridges develop the radio station. The war came. Loren Bridges became an officer in the army. So everything had to be put on hold anyway because you couldn’t get what you needed. Now the war’s over, Riley has Loren Bridges come back. He has Graham come on board. Loren and Graham hit it off very Well, right from the beginning. Billy says “Go on with the vision that Riley had about the station.” Which Bridges did very well. The only trouble was that Bridges couldn’t raise the money. Billy is busy. He can raise money for everything except education and KTIS was as part of Northwestern. So he actually left the crusade in Los Angeles, came to Minneapolis, had a chapel, and said to the students “We need from $60,000 to $100,000. Will you students raise it for us?” They did it in no time at all. The students raise between $60 and $100,000 to put up the tower.
SHUSTER: How did they do that? I mean how did the students...
LEE: I don’t know.
SHUSTER: Asking their parents or...?
LEE: I think they sent to their parents and the parents asked for money. The churches...some churches supported the students, and we had the money in no time at all. And the tower went up and in February, Graham came back for that day and we launched at eleven o’clock in the morning. And at twelve o’clock I went on the air with the news. [Shuster laughs] It was something! I mean it was some...this is all a part of a marvelous thing that was happening in the world. But at the same time, Northwestern wasn’t going anywhere except in its impact, what I would call it’s impact, for the church.
SHUSTER: What do you mean by that?
LEE: Well, I mean by that you’re not focusing on students, you’re focusing on the impact of the church: evangelism, radio sermons, and reaching out for Christ (which it still is sixty years later, you know). Bigger than ever. Bigger than ever. And it’s located on the Northwestern campus. All of this.... It was marvelous to see it happen. But also it was causing Northwestern ultimately to close.
SHUSTER: With the....
LEE: Oh I need to say, it was revived and it’s better than ever today.
SHUSTER: With...you said how Graham came back, held a chapel, and asked the students to raise funds. Was he much involved with the radio afterwards?
LEE: Well...he was on the radio quite a bit right at first. And the radio tried to get any of his programs to broadcast. But many of the programs were with the system: CBS, NBC, especially ABC. ABC was a big...was the big one with Graham.
LEE: And so the KTIS would have to take what’s left over unless Graham signified that it was to go to KTIS. But Graham was often on the air, or people that Graham wanted on the air would be on the air.
SHUSTER: But he was not deeply involved with the development...?
LEE: No, Bridges put that all together and did a very good job of it. Some very popular people were on programs that went over well. But now you’re coming into the transition to television. So radio is now beginning to make a change. And ultimately change becomes the kind of change you get from...oh what’s his name from Colorado Springs?
SHUSTER: Oh Bill Bright?
LEE: Focus on the Family.
SHUSTER: Oh yeah, Dobson.
LEE: This kind of thing.... So that Christian radio in the ‘50s changed to what it became with Focus on the Family. That kind of thing to what it becomes now which is a new, casual...style. Different music. You don’t have the traditional hymns, etc. The old timers probably don’t listen to it very much.
SHUSTER: Of course, as you’ve been saying. Graham wasn’t on campus that much, he had other responsibilities...
SHUSTER: ...but was there any particular program or activity on campus that he was particularly interested in or involved in?
LEE: No not really. The school had an excellent basketball team. It would try to do all the things that a college was supposed to do. But if you’re going to have the students (you have about 700 students when Graham comes on).... In 1948, we had between six to 700 students. In 1950, two years later we have 1200 students. No [coughs] no new buildings other than the [Shuster laughs] new building that we went to...into in 1948.
SHUSTER: We have a tape of the dedication of that building by the way. [Collection 74, tape T26]
LEE: Oh do you? Yeah, yeah, I was there.
SHUSTER: So then what was Graham’s relationship with the board at Northwestern during these years?
LEE: Well, it started out quite well. And many of his own people were on the board. His musicians were on the board...
SHUSTER: His musicians being Cliff Barrows, Tedd Smith...
LEE: Barrows and Shea.
SHUSTER: Oh and Beverly Shea.
LEE: Yeah, they were on the board.
SHUSTER: I imagine most of the board had been appointed by Riley or selected by Riley.
LEE: Almost all of them appointed by Riley. And many of them were...the words have been used. Many of them were separatists. For example the...the approach of Richard Clearwaters who was the pastor at Forth Baptist Church. He, inside, opposed Graham. He was cooperative as much as he could be for a while. He was a very competent man. I’ve never seen a pastor of a large church have so many people leave his church. He start over and have a large church. And he’d start over and have a large church. And Fourth Baptist Church has a huge church in Minneapolis toady.
SHUSTER: Fourth Baptist Church you say?
LEE: Fourth Baptist Church. And there were others. I’d have to go back and dig up...
SHUSTER: Riley’s church was First Baptist, wasn’t it.
LEE: Riley was First Baptist.
LEE: Clearwaters’ was Fourth Baptist but Riley and Clearwaters were very close. They were trying to accomplish the same things. Riley was not quite as...as stern as Clearwaters. But he was stern enough [Shuster chuckles] and they were all a part of the conflict before the war [between liberal and fundamentalist Protestants] that...tended to come in on the evolution/creation thing. And so that.... And Riley was a leader. He brought the Conservative Baptist movement into Minnesota. And Minnesota and Arizona became the leading states for the Conservative Baptist movement. It’s quite a story. But he had been a part of Northern Baptists that you have in my writing to you.
SHUSTER: But we were talking about the relationship between Graham and the board. So there were...
LEE: Graham and the board were working out fairly Well, at the beginning, except the board saw what you and I are talking about. “We want you to be president of Northwestern.” And they were partly encouraged by these separatists who didn’t like Graham’s broader umbrella. So it became very complicated. And I sat through that whole meeting. Graham said that I was there as a representative of the faculty so that they would understand what was being done.
SHUSTER: This is the meeting at the end where he resigned?
LEE: This is the meeting at the end. And the meeting would end with his resignation and with Shea’s resignation and with Barrow’s resignation. And with.... The whole thing was tense. Very tense. And at the end...I thought it would end badly. And the Sword of the Lord [periodical published by John R. Rice]...
SHUSTER: John R. Rice.
LEE: John R. Rice got up and I thought “uh-oh.”
SHUSTER: He’s also on the board obviously.
LEE: Pardon? He was on the board, oh yes. John R. Rice gets an Aplus from me for ending that whole meeting on a high...level. He said “these brothers have other things to do for God. They’ve resigned. We ought to accept that in good spirit. We ought to deal with the matter of our tension.” He just utterly surprised me. He had even attacked me in his paper. And the implication of the attack was that when I went to Whitworth...the implication “What can you expect of Lee going to Whitworth from Northwestern since he was a student at Wheaton?”
SHUSTER: The tensions that you mentioned that were there. Were they just over the fact that Graham wasn’t on campus very much or was there...a philosophy...an education philosophy regarding the college that was...?
LEE: No, no, no. It wasn’t philosophical. It was simply that nobody was tending the store.
LEE: And it was.... The board realized to a degree that it was their fault. They were expecting Graham to be the president, but he couldn’t do it the way that he wanted...the way that he felt he could do it. And the way he felt he could do it wasn’t working well, that’s true. But it could have been handled differently and better.
SHUSTER: What was...?
LEE: Well, Graham at...from Graham’s point of view, he was trying to keep his promise to Riley. But he was faced with all kinds of problems. Inherited problems with attitudes relative to the schools. Mrs. Riley was there watching over the ghost of her husband. All kinds of things. The lack of preparation that had preceded him. So with Riley gone, there’s no money for it.
LEE: The schism between First Baptist Church and Northwestern, partly related to the man that succeeded Riley that Riley didn’t want to succeed him, etc. It was a stew. It was a stew that...left everybody out on.... Everybody, everybody (including Graham) was pushed out on a limb. They...everybody was pushed out on a limb. And the only way that you’re going to get a solution is obviously you’re going to let this man, blessed of God, do his thing. And let’s see what we can do with the college. Well, they couldn’t get it worked out. [Richard] Elvee came on and Elvee ultimately became...he ultimately resigned at became the pastor of the church that McArthur, John McArthur now has [Grace Covenant Church in Sun Valley, California]. And I talked to Elvee’s widow...
SHUSTER: That’s Coral Ridge [Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida]? Was that Coral Ridge or what...?
LEE: Is that the name? I forgot.
SHUSTER: It doesn’t make a difference.
LEE: I’ve even spoken there. But I’ve forgotten what it was. But I talked to McArthur and I talked to Mrs. Elvee. And Mrs. Elvee remembers Northwestern related especially to me. And she was exceedingly gracious. And her response was that her husband had done his best (and I thought he had done his best) but that really wasn’t his goal, just as it wasn’t Graham’s goal.
LEE: Calling. It wasn’t Elvee’s calling. If Graham didn’t think he could raise money [Shuster chuckles] Elvee even less so.
SHUSTER: You said that the board...that Graham wanted to do things a certain way and it wasn’t really...the board wasn’t really supporting it. What was the way he wanted to do things? How did he want to do things?
LEE: Well, he wanted to make appointments of the people who he thought were effective people.
LEE: And they were effective at what they came out of. For example, he appointed the man who was chief of chaplains in Europe to become what would amount to the president. The assistant president.
SHUSTER: Who was that?
LEE: Oh I can’t remember his name. He was as misfit as if I were...if I tried to wear my children’s shoes, you know [Shuster laughs]. Wonderful man, but can you imagine running a modern college like an officer of an army? It can’t be done.
SHUSTER: Indeed. Unless it’s West Point maybe.
LEE: Well...West Point. But even he...Yeah. He needs commitment from the students to salute. Yeah yeah.
SHUSTER: So...who was.... I’ve read in some things that T. W. Wilson was Graham’s second on campus. Is that true?
LEE: No, Grady was his right hand man...
LEE: ...in...to cover when he couldn’t preach. Grady was to preach.
SHUSTER: No I mean at Northwestern, who was the person who...?
LEE: ...Never more than in the vestibule. T. W. always.... You never find a more wonderful man than T. W. Wilson. No relation to George. T. W. and Grady were brothers. T. W. wanted to have his own...his own kingdom. And I can understand.
SHUSTER: His own ministry.
LEE: He was a good evangelist. You know, if the ball had bounced left instead of right, it would have been T. instead of Billy. And Billy and T. were very close. If Billy has his druthers, he would have taken T. W. as his right hand evangelist, etc. But T. did his own thing. And...Graham took Grady. Grady never could match his brother. He couldn’t match T.
SHUSTER: As a preacher.
LEE: As a preacher.
SHUSTER: But I’m thinking as an administrator at Northwestern.
LEE: T. W. wasn’t an administrator at Northwestern. He would have been if he wanted to be...
SHUSTER: But he didn’t want to be.
LEE: ...but that wasn’t his thing.
SHUSTER: So who was Graham’s second in command at Northwestern? Who was running the school? Nobody was?
LEE: That was the trouble.
SHUSTER: I see.
LEE: So his second in command would sometimes be...would sometimes be George when George saw that nobody else was, then he would have this man come in, chief of chaplains. He’d have Sanden come in and Sanden was busy with his little thing over here that he had run in somewhere in Louisiana [tape recorder turned off and on].
SHUSTER: Okay, Dr. Lee and I took a break for a bit and went to lunch. And now we’re back at his home. Dr. Lee, you had mentioned that...you took a trip on behalf of Billy Graham to Portland in 1950. Can you tell me about that.
LEE: Yes the trip that we took was basically related to Northwestern. Graham was president of Northwestern. He faced a summer of paying salaries for the faculty and staff of Northwestern. The treasury was empty so he was trying to find ways of raising funds to pay the faculty between spring and fall. And so...one of the solutions was that Lee would be the speaker. Two of the...three of the faculty would provide music, and that we would go across the country speaking in various churches. We did that. We went to seventy cities in seventy days. And it was with a combination of Northwestern and the Billy Graham [Evangelistic] Association.
SHUSTER: So you were.... Funds were raised for both or...?
LEE: The idea was to raise our own salaries. That’s really what it amounted to. And if possible, to make some.... In other words the school was paying us our standard salary. And then we were, instead of teaching classes, were to have services in these churches and...then the...school would receive the checks from the churches or the organizations sponsoring us in each place. So we spoke in seventy cities in seventy days. And two of those days were devoted to the Portland Campaign. In other words, Graham wanted us to be there and...he used these musicians, these three musicians in the Portland Campaign.
SHUSTER: And of course Portland...Portland, Oregon was one of the places where Graham was holding a multi-week evangelistic campaign. [Greater Portland Crusade, July 23-September 4, 1950]
LEE: Yes. It was one of those long crusades.
SHUSTER: As a matter of fact, he actually built a wooden tabernacle...
LEE: Yeah, the actually built a tabernacle that would seat 17,500 people. And it was full every night. But there were things that he was still learning about how to run these huge crusades. For example, the mayor of the city (a woman, her last name was Lee so I’ve never forgotten her name, no relation [Dorothy McCullough Lee]) and then there were other.... They were trying to be critical of such support from this group or that group relative to this. The newspapers were rather negative about religion, so that he...he wasn’t getting the best press. Even the hotel had difficulty...how much of the hotel should be reserved for the staff...for Graham’s staff and for the various business meeting rooms, etc. And then we showed up.
LEE: So in fact, the...the...the hotel where he was staying, they didn’t want to give us a room (we who had come in with the team, with the Billy Graham team) because all of the rooms were being taken by people who came from outlying districts and wanted a room so they could attend the Billy Graham meetings. But we worked it out. Somebody was there (I’ve forgotten who) took care of it. The fellow who was playing the piano for the whole summer was Bill Berntsen who was on the staff of Northwestern. In other words, Graham was trying to meet the financial needs of the Association and the financial needs of the College, and sometimes these were mixed and so that’s what happened. He asked me to speak telling about going across the country and all of this which was a part of showing how huge this kind of evangelism was. And part of the understanding in Portland (I think it was relatively new to the whole thing) was that this was a national thing and therefore, Portland was trying to benefit from any good thing that Portland could focus on for the Graham crusades. And thereafter, that was a feature. Wherever the crusades went, business improved, especially with the hotels, motels.
LEE: People coming in wanting to be a part of what the...association was doing. And then we moved on from there, made our circle around the United States. Seventy cities in seventy days.
SHUSTER: Do you remember anything else from the Portland crusade?
LEE: No. It was a learning period for the association because all of the kinds of responsibilities that they put on you that may not have been attempted...thought about in advance. But it is interesting when you want to do something that there are a great many features to be encountered and solved. And especially when a lot of people don’t want you there.
SHUSTER: [Laughs] Indeed.
LEE: And...but they were able to manage that. And gradually so mastered it that I don’t think anybody did it better from about...19...oh about 1955 on, no one did it better than the association.
SHUSTER: It actually was at Portland that Graham had spoken about the possibility of having a radio program and raised the money to get it started. So it was immediately after Portland that the BGEA [Billy Graham Evangelistic Association] was incorporated, the association was created as a formal corporation. Did you have any involvement in that...?
LEE: No, no. [Clear throat] I was asked an opinion here and there, but I had no official relationship with the forming of the incorporation. None at all.
SHUSTER: Um...[pauses] I’m looking at the notes you gave me, some of these...many of these things we’ve talked about. You have mentioned that when Graham resigned, he invited you to join the BGEA?
LEE: Now do that again?
SHUSTER: About the time that Graham resigned as president he also invited you to join the BGEA?
LEE: No, no, it didn’t go that way. What happened was when he resigned, it was up to several of us to decide whether or not we would go with the BGEA or the college. In other words, he was there. And if I had said to him “Alright, now that it’s separated, cleanly, I would like to go with BGEA.” He would have said “What area do you want to work in,” or he would have said “I think you ought to stay with Northwestern.” That’s the way Graham tended to.... He would not have invited (with the exception I think of George Wilson) he would not have invited any of us to leave Northwestern. He wanted to leave Northwestern as much intact as possible and of course he wanted the BGEA to go forward.
LEE: If I had said to him that I wanted to come in to BGEA and...he would have said alright. He probably would have said “alright, come in as a writer,” perhaps.
SHUSTER: But he didn’t want to poach anybody from Northwestern?
LEE: No. He did not want to take anybody away from Northwestern. With the possible exception of George Wilson.
SHUSTER: Of George Wilson, yes. Um...Well, how did you make your decision about whether to stay...?
LEE: Well, that...I...I was called upon a number of times to make decisions for change. And...I think I saw it something as he saw it. And that is “Don’t abandon the Northwestern ship, it’s in enough difficulty as it is.” So I decided to stay with Northwestern but partly because I had decided that I wanted to stay with the academic community. I could tell from my personal affairs, my wife’s feelings, that she wanted something that wouldn’t take me away so much. Because I was away from my family so much and my children would make references, “Daddy, you’re gone before we get up in the morning and sometimes we’re in bed before you get home at night.”
SHUSTER: It’s because you were working long hours at...?
LEE: Working long hours. I was doing two, three, never less than two and often three to four different jobs. Any one of which, if it was done fully, would have taken my time.
SHUSTER: You were also pastoring a church, is that right?
LEE: Yes, I pastored a church. But I was interim pastor at several churches. And in fact came to Buffalo, Minnesota as interim for six weeks. Because at the end of the six weeks, I was to go to a church at St. Paul for the rest of the year. That was 1952. And...so I gave them six weeks. And so they said “We’ll take the six weeks, even if you won’t...even if you won’t consider us.” And so I gave them the six weeks ending on Easter, 1952. But the last two Sundays I was here, Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday, they nagged me to come to the church. Well, I had already agreed to go to the other church, so I went to the other church. But in the meantime, they’d say “Will you consider....” At the same time, the other church asked me to consider. I said “I’ll tell you what, whichever one of you will permit me to stay at Northwestern and stay at your church, I’ll take it.” The Buffalo church said “We’ll take it.” The other church said, “No, we...” .It was a much bigger church than this church. And they said “No, we need you full time.” So I came to Buffalo and I never regretted it.
SHUSTER: Of course Buffalo is where your home is now, that’s where we’re recording this interview.
SHUSTER: You mentioned how Graham didn’t want to deplete Northwestern of the staff, but of course a lot of the staff from Northwestern did come with him. They formed the core of his...it was George Wilson, Jerry Beaven, Betty Lowry, Loren Bridges was later associated with him, and of course...let’s see T. W. Wilson had been on the staff at...but he had come because of Graham and he left with Graham. Were there...was that it? Were there other staff people that joined him that I didn’t mention?
LEE: No, I think you’ve covered them all. Again, T. W. was a...a confidant of Graham.
SHUSTER: I mean Graham brought him in, so he left with Graham...
LEE: But he had no...none of us were told that T. W. had any official title. Graham leaned on T. W. but we saw him as a representative of Graham.
SHUSTER: Well, if we could talk a little bit about some of these other individuals that I’ve mentioned...
SHUSTER: ...starting first and foremost of course with George Wilson. How would you describe George Wilson as a man?
LEE: George Wilson was very gifted at what he did. He did it well, he did it with dispatch. You knew right where he stood. He had no...no visible enemies. He had a way of working with people that he made sure that he was...he was meeting their needs while they were meeting his needs. So he was very good at it. And...Billy Graham Evangelistic Association became very professional because of...because of him. I can’t say enough that would be supportive of...of him. He was just a fine fellow, exactly where he ought to be, doing the things he ought to do.
SHUSTER: How did you first meet?
LEE: Well, we first met whenever I came up to be interviewed for a position on the faculty. And he and I hit it off right away. And he asked me...he was great in getting you to do extra things. And he right away wanted me to write for his magazine. Well, that...
SHUSTER: The Northwestern Pilot.
LEE: ...Pilot that helped fill up the magazine. And then he asked me to do this or that. And we just hit it off. I was often is his home (not often) I was in his home. And...we always.... We seemed to see eye to eye on what was needed. Some things he could see that was needed that he couldn’t address.
SHUSTER: What did he look like? What was his appearance?
LEE: Well, he was...he was a short man. Bulky. Heavy for his height. But that seemed like George Wilson [Shuster laughs] I couldn’t imagine George Wilson being anything other than he was. He was...he was articulate. He knew what he was doing. He didn’t try something he couldn’t do.
SHUSTER: What...what was his conversational style like? What was it like to sit down and talk with him?
LEE: Oh it was very pleasant. No matter what you’d talk about, he could talk about. He was a Minnesotan, I don’t think he wanted to live in any other part of the world than in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. You could talk to him about sports, business. You could talk to him about the schools. Whatever you wanted to talk about, he would join right in and talk about it. He was an excellent fellow, just an excellent fellow. And when he retired, I was at his retirement luncheon.
SHUSTER: When was that?
LEE: And did they ever speak well of him! At his retire...
SHUSTER: When he retired as the...vice president of finance or vice president of the BGEA.
LEE: When he retired from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. And he didn’t live long after that...a few years. But not very long after. I think he already knew that his health was in decline. And so when he retired, Graham [clears throat] Graham came up from North Carolina to be there at the meeting. And it was jam packed with the business people from Minneapolis and St. Paul who felt that he had performed an excellent...performance as business manager for the association.
SHUSTER: Uh-huh. What was it...what actually was his title at Northwestern? Was he on the faculty...?
LEE: No, he wasn’t on the faculty. He didn’t espouse to be on the faculty. Basically, you’d call him the business manager and treasurer, basically.
SHUSTER: Do you recall any stories or anecdotes about him as an administrator at Northwestern?
LEE: No, everybody trusted him. Everybody believed in him. He’s the kind of fellow that you’d like to have. But...there was no...gossip about him or anything that would degrade him in any way. He was a prince of a fellow. Just a prince of a fellow.
SHUSTER: Now Jerry Beaven, you mentioned, he was...he did your interview when you came up...
LEE: Well, I had some interview with him because he was the go-between at the time. There was some confusion. Oscar Sanden was to come on as academic dean, Jerry Beaven was to serve in putting these schools together relative to the curriculum and certain other obligations. Some of which came out of...George Wilson’s office. But Jerry Beaven was a tall, slim, nice looking fellow. He.... But he was [pauses] he had a serious side to him that was stern. And therefore at times, difficult to talk to. He decided what a thing ought to be, and then if you wanted to raise a question, see if you could get some amendment to it, it wasn’t easy to do.
LEE: But he had served well. He had served...
SHUSTER: So his job was to coordinate the three schools?
LEE: A lot of his job had to do with coordinating the whole institution. But...at the beginning when I was told by Graham what he wanted in the speech department of the school, then...there was some tension that arose there between Beaven and me that had to be resolved by Graham. I had a point, Beaven had a point, Graham had to resolve it. Beaven’s point was there’s not money for that, my point was I’d been told to do it! There wasn’t any question but I was to do it. In fact, it cost a years delay in getting it done.
SHUSTER: To raise the money.
LEE: To raise the money so that we could proceed. And it was at that time that Graham came in with the three of us and resolved it by simply telling Mr. Beaven that it’s to be done. Without answering his basic problem and that was, where’s the money coming from. And so...
SHUSTER: Did you have good relations with him after that, I mean was that...?
LEE: Well, all of our relations were very civil and...and satisfactory. But there was no warmth like there was between a lot of others of us. He was very much more objective and kept a difference between friendships and obligations of profession.
SHUSTER: It sounds like if there’s somebody at the schools who had to say no, it would have been Beaven. Is that right?
LEE: He probably...as a first. Would have been Beaven.
LEE: As a first. Yeah. But for some reason, I got the feeling that he didn’t feel like he wanted to be there. But I don’t have any evidence for that. It’s just the feeling that came in our exchange. He and I never had a negative exchange except at that moment where both of us were right but we had to be resolved in some way. And I think he may have felt maybe I was at fault a little bit for the confrontation that he felt with Graham...
LEE: ...on that particular moment which lasted five minutes, you know?
SHUSTER: Anything else to say about Beaven?
LEE: No. No. Except that he went over to the association and within a short time, I didn’t hear any more about him. So it would interest me to find out how long he stayed on with the association after leaving Northwestern.
SHUSTER: I can’t give you an exact date but he was with the association at least through the New York crusade in 1957.
LEE: Uh-huh. Well, that would be four more years.
LEE: See, and he was too young a man, where did he go after ‘57?
SHUSTER: That I don’t....
LEE: See, that would interest me. I would like to think that he found a happy, professional life.
SHUSTER: Well, I believe that he’s retired in Pennsylvania, but I don’t know more information than that.
SHUSTER: Loren Bridges you’ve mentioned a few times...Loren Bridges. What was he like?
LEE: Loren Bridges was all radio. He believed in it, he knew it...
SHUSTER: What was his background, had he worked in...?
LEE: Yeah, he had worked in it before, and he was Riley’s man. No question about it.
SHUSTER: Had he worked in commercial radio or what did he...?
LEE: He was somewhere in commercial radio, but I don’t remember. I knew at the time. But it had gone out of an old mind. He was in it and...there’s no question that he was the man for the job. No question.
SHUSTER: And the job was starting and running the college radio station.
LEE: The job was everything. Everything. It was programming, it was machinery, it was getting land, it was everything. [coughs] And he was the perfect man for that job. He did it all, he served Graham as Well, as he served Riley...and...he did the whole thing. His wife was an excellent lit [literature] teacher in the college.
SHUSTER: What did she teach?
LEE: She taught lit. And she was Well, liked, very, very Well, put together professional. And so they worked together. She would sometimes be on the radio and made an excellent presentation. And whatever he lacked in what you’d call a kind of refinement, she provided. They were a perfect match, those two. But it also gave...gave some...some solidarity in that the family...so many families worked together at the college...at Northwestern. So by having two salaries, both of which were very low, they had enough to live on. Therefore, no one went around, you know, looking dismal with holes in their shirts [Shuster laughs] but there was never enough funding. Both personally or for the institution until it was restored later.
SHUSTER: What was his physical appearance? What did he look like?
LEE: Loren Bridges was a kind of a sandy looking fellow.
LEE: Sandy, kind of a...his hair wasn’t sandy, but he looked like a sandy kind of a person. You’ve seen ‘em. They’re not red haired, but they’re not brown haired either [Shuster laughs]. And he was one of those in between persons. He was full of energy, he knew exactly what he was doing, he didn’t propose to know what anyone else should be doing, but he knew what he should be doing. He was a perfect man for the job and he got it done. It would have cost a great deal more to have someone else do it than have Loren Bridges do it. He had a real perception of how Christianity ought to be presented over the air and ended up providing an excellent, excellent program. The programming in the first years, the years that I was a part of during 1957, with a possible exception of me, was excellent program.
SHUSTER: What made it excellent? What was...?
LEE: Well, because they were speaking to the people and it had variety to it. You’d have...you’d have one half hour would be a counseling session. You’d have another half hour just with music. You’d have another fifteen minutes with just this program. Another one with a national program. Another one with news from Washington. I gave the local news at twelve o’clock and at five o’clock plus a Christian perception of the news at five o’clock. And they followed through this and he did it on both AM and FM.
SHUSTER: With this local news, you got that off the wire service?
LEE: We got that off of AP. Yeah. Associated Press. It came off the...
SHUSTER: So you didn’t have a news staff?
SHUSTER: ...news reporters.
LEE: No, we were the news staff. The people delivering it were the news staff. And I would go and tear off the news items. And at that time, the AP was an excellent reporter. And I could write in because it came off the teletype. And I could write in things that I knew along the way. And I had this feeling that when you reported the news, if it was worth reporting, it was worth a follow up. Therefore, if I reported that let’s say there was a devastating Katrina storm in New Orleans, then we’d follow up and I’d say what was happening there. In addition to that, I had a program once a week in which we invited some eminent person to the program, and they came. For example, I sent a little note to Governor Youngdahl, Luther Youngdahl, who is a governor and asked him if he’d be on our program. He had his assistant call and say “we’ll be there, when do you want us?” And he came. We had a wonderful time. So I would interview people who were known in the twin cities or in Minnesota along the way. And it was so successful that stations were being added. One in Fargo, and one in Iowa, so that I could drive out of Minneapolis pretty far west and way down in Iowa, as far as Omaha and pick up Northwestern stations. Which, by the way, kept the school going. If it hadn’t been for the radio, the college would have never revived.
SHUSTER: But it brought in contributions and...?
LEE: It brought in the contributions that kept the basic staff together until they could get it going again.
SHUSTER: Did you have any stories or anecdotes about Loren Bridges?
LEE: No, none that I can think of. There was nothing special. Sometimes they’d have little jokes between them that would be funny and caused some response, but I can’t recall any...any outstanding thing.
SHUSTER: I’m trying to think...I don’t think.... Did he leave when Graham left or did he do...? I know he left and eventually became manager of Graham’s radio station in North Carolina. But he didn’t leave in 1950...?
LEE: What happened after I left in 1957, I didn’t follow that, except as Bill Berntsen would contact me because he always wanted me to stay at Northwestern. He even came to my house in Spokane and asked me to come back.
SHUSTER: Bill Berntsen of course was president...
LEE: Bill Berntsen was the head of the music department. And when it finally failed, they asked Bill to be president and he took it on. I mean...boy he was a brave fellow. He took it on and he made it work.
SHUSTER: But Loren Bridges was on at Northwestern until at least 1957 when you were...
LEE: He was there as long as I was there. And what happened afterwards, I have no idea. But the fellow that came on...Pell...Paul Reynolds came on...
SHUSTER: He came on as what?
LEE: He came on as director of the stations.
SHUSTER: Oh I see.
LEE: And he wanted me on. And he...when I retired thirty years later, he wanted me on. In fact, I spent some time at his office in Northwestern and he says “If you’ll do the program, we’ll guarantee you that we’ll air it.” [That] kind of thing. But for some reason...that was over for me. I had enough going still. I would have time now, but of course my voice is cracking with age and so on, so it wouldn’t be like I was whenever I was really going.
SHUSTER: Did you know Betty Lowry?
LEE: I did not know Betty Lowru I did not know her. I did know his secretary...Graham’s secretary...very loyal to both Graham and the association and to Graham and the college.
SHUSTER: Who was that?
LEE: Oh, her name slipped me at the moment.
LEE: She was...oh! What was her name?
LEE: I have it.
SHUSTER: Luverne...uh...was that Luverne?
LEE: Gustafson, yes!
SHUSTER: Luverne Gustavson.
LEE: Yes, Luverne Gustavson. And in fact years, decades later, I received a letter from her saying how much she appreciated the time that we had all worked together back then.
SHUSTER: Well, why don’t you describe her? What did she look like?
LEE: Well, let’s see. How...she was a lovely lady. She was just a very competent, professional person. She’d talk to you, she would listen to you. Perfect secretary. She...she was...miss everywoman as I see it, you know. I hadn’t thought of that. I thought she was a lovely, lovely person. The older I get, the more beautiful she is remembered...
SHUSTER: What was her appearance?
LEE: She made a very professional appearance. All of the people did. Excellent appearance, very professional in appearance. All of them.
SHUSTER: You say she was a perfect secretary. What made her a good secretary?
LEE: I think because she knew how...she knew what not to say. People would try to ply her with questions about what was happening, what was going to happen, “What are you going to do, what is Dr. Graham going to do,” etc., etc. And she said...she would as much as say “that’s not a part of my job.” You know? So she was very...she...I would trust her with any information.
SHUSTER: She was good at keeping confidence?
LEE: She was excellent at keeping confidence. She was excellent at making a positive presentation and if you asked her to do something, she was right there to do it.
SHUSTER: Now it’s my impression, correct me if I’m wrong, Graham never actually moved to live in Minneapolis, he and his wife continued to live in Montreat.
LEE: No, one day he...asked me to go with him with George Wilson to look at houses. He said “Well, if we’re going to have the association here and if I’m going to be at the college,” he says, “I suppose I ought to have a house here.”
SHUSTER: Didn’t sound very eager.
LEE: Yeah, “I ought to have a house here.” And everybody agreed. That was very encouraging when he said that. So we looked at five different houses. And he walked through them and we would talk about what the pros and cons were for each house. But I remember the one house that he kind of liked. It was on 50th street and one of the cross streets in south Minneapolis. In south Minneapolis the streets go according to numbers east and west and according to alphabet starting with Aldridge, B, C. In fact I lived at sixtieth and Upton. See, it makes it easy to find in Minneapolis. And this was at 50th and somewhere in a...it was either in Edina or right bordering, which is a fine suburb of Minneapolis, south Minneapolis. Anyway, we were in this house. And so he says “I...I think I might buy this house.” And by the way, I had already been told privately that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association was going to pay him this amount of money. He never had anything to do with money with the Association except to raise it.
LEE: And it was up to the board. He really trusted his board but the board trusted him too. They all spoke in one voice. But the board set his salary which was modest. But it was enough that he could buy that house. So he thought he’d buy that house. So my response was “You can’t buy any woman’s house.” [Shuster laughs]. “You better have Ruth here.” Because I had met Ruth a couple of times and talked to her when our baby boy David was born (who lives here in Buffalo who is somewhere in the world today). They sent a...beautiful...little layette for him. It was lovely. And so when their next child was born (I don’t remember if it was Franklin or not) but when their child was born, my wife made sure that Ruth got one so we traded layettes. Anyway, the point was that I said “You better ask Ruth,” because everybody knew that despite the fact that Ruth loved Billy and Billy loved Ruth, they were both their own persons. I said “You better ask Ruth.” He said “Oh yeah, yeah. But she’ll go with it.” I says “You better ask Ruth.” [Shuster laughs] He asked Ruth and a few days later he says “She’s decided we’re going to live at in Montreat.” [Shuster laughs]. I think that Ruth knew that he wouldn’t be in any one place at once. And she had good reasons. She says “You’re hardly home now, you’re hardly in Minneapolis. If I’ve got to raise the kids, I’m not going to raise them in Minneapolis in the frozen tundra.” [Both laugh]. So she stayed there and it was a wise decision. She was able to be mother and father to those kids.
SHUSTER: Did you have much contact with her...?
LEE: Not very much. She wanted to be a good wife and so when she...a good first lady to Northwestern. But that was impossible. To have all the children she had (she had quite a brood of kids) and...and to have a husband so seldom at home. And when he was, he wasn’t at home. I mean everybody...everybody after him. So she did the right thing. There’s no question at all. Raised them on a place that was big enough for a family in a culture that she understood. And Billy Graham told me many times “I’ve tried to convert her to Baptist from Presbyterian but I haven’t been able to do it” he said [Shuster laughs]. I don’t think she ever took her membership out of the Presbyterian church in Montreat.
SHUSTER: I’m sure that’s true, yes.
SHUSTER: The...you mentioned that T. W. was kind of an informal assistant to Graham...
LEE: Yes, yes.
SHUSTER: ...at Northwestern. Did you have much contact with him?
LEE: Oh I had excellent contact with him. And the reason why I knew that Graham took him into close relationship was when Graham and I would have an agreement about something or I would know something that nobody else was supposed to know, T. knew it and would talk to me about it. For example, whenever I started to write for Graham for the ABC stations, Hour of Decision, the first thing I heard from was T. W. saying “I’m so glad you’re writing for Graham and I think it’s great,” etc. And I says “T., how did you know?” He tells...he says “he doesn’t keep it a secret from us” he said. But I thought...
SHUSTER: Us being...?
LEE: ...I thought it’s the kind of thing you don’t talk about.
SHUSTER: When you say he doesn’t keep it a secret from us, you mean like...?
LEE: He meant...
SHUSTER: Cliff Barrows and T. W. Wilson...
LEE: Yeah that’s right. In other words, Bev Shea knew it and T.W knew it. But T.W knew it first from Graham. And then...there weren’t any secrets among those men. There weren’t any secrets. And they trusted each other. And they knew each one was reaching out for the same goal and that was not selfish or to honor any one person. Graham permitted his name to be used because that’s what people respond to. But it wasn’t because he felt any superiority or...or any kind of arrogance or pride. He just knew that if he took his name off of it, there were some people who would back away from it. It would be something like you and I, if we knew the apostle Paul, we’d feel better about it if we knew than if we didn’t know about it...kind of thing.
SHUSTER: Did Grady Wilson or Cliff Barrows ever have any office or connection with Northwestern?
LEE: No, no.
SHUSTER: They came there to speak sometimes...
LEE: Oh yes, oh yes. But they didn’t have any office.... I...I think, if I’m not mistaken, that if they needed an office, they used the office next to Graham. Graham had the corner office, Miss Gustavson here, and then there was a room that they tried to keep open over here. So that.... And there were times when Graham didn’t care. Use his office, you know? Ordinarily, you wouldn’t use the president’s office.
SHUSTER: But Barrows and Grady Wilson didn’t have any position at Northwestern or...?
LEE: No, no, no.
SHUSTER: ...no connection. When, after Graham left as president, what kind of contacts did you have with him later?
LEE: I only saw him once after that night. That night that he resigned. And that was years later at Wilson’s retirement. And...when it was all over...he walked to the side alone. And so I, my son said “go over and...” I says “Well, he may...he may be busy.” And they said “No. We remember what it was like.” My sons now older, and all my children except my youngest is a grandparent. And so I went over and he gave me a big hug. And he said “You were my first writer.” That’s the first thing he said to me [Shuster laughs]. “You were my first writer.” We had a wonderful exchange. And it was very friendly, very upbeat, very much of the idea that our lives...have made their investment. And then we hugged. And I was...mildly shocked that he was so slight of frame. In other words...I really wonder if he didn’t work much of his life with this...with a health issue before him.
LEE: The public wouldn’t have seen that because he was always the picture of vibrancy and health. But I think he could have...I think he could have worked through much of his life with a sense of weakness, physical weakness. I’ve often wondered about that. Because I’ve had enough contact with him (sickroom the day we were in Washington) other things that he said to me along the way. And I know in retirement when he was asked “When you get really old as a husband and wife, what benefit do you have?” Do you know what his answer was?
SHUSTER: [indicates no].
LEE: “Separate bedrooms!” [Shuster laughs]. In other words, she had her set of illnesses. We prayed especially for her on occasion. One time she had a problem that was life threatening, twenty years before she died. Because I can remember that we had special prayer for that. And then he would...he would be doctoring. I don’t know if he was susceptible to colds or flu. Something like that. It wasn’t the kind of thing that kills you, but it’s the kind of thing that saps your energy.
LEE: But he never seemed to lose it. Now the day that he spent...that we spent together in that Washington D.C. hospital, he certainly had to gather enough strength for that evening.
SHUSTER: Well, you didn’t say you were at the hospital, you said you were at his hotel room.
LEE: I mean his hotel room.
SHUSTER: He stayed, spent the day in the hotel. Yeah.
LEE: Yeah. I think of it almost as a hospital room the day because of the doctor. No, it was a...it was in the hotel room. It was not in the hospital. I don’t know why I said that.
SHUSTER: Well, because he seemed...he looked ill, weak.
SHUSTER: Anything else? Any story or any comment you wanted to add about your association with Billy Graham over the years?
LEE: No, I think that takes it up. He came to San Francisco...Oakland...Oakland when I was president at Simpson [coughs].
SHUSTER: Yeah, he came there in ‘58, that was the first time...
LEE: No, no. It was...
SHUSTER: He came there later too, but that was...
LEE: It was later. It was the last one that he had.
LEE: Because in ‘58 I was in Spokane.
SHUSTER: He was in San Francisco in ‘58 but he came at later times too.
LEE: Yes. And...it went very well when he was there. And everybody was cooperative. The thing was run Well, and so on. But I didn’t.... You know they were so busy. I didn’t add anything to it except to cooperate with it at Simpson College. And a lot of our people went over to the meetings and supported it. And the students were very prayerful for it.
SHUSTER: Well, let me just ask you about a couple other things that we’ve mentioned...that we’ve talked about. You mentioned that you knew Ed McCully who was one of the five...
SHUSTER: ...missionaries that was killed in Ecuador in 1956. Can you talk about your memories of him?
LEE: Yes. Well, he came on...he was a freshman in...I think in ‘46, ‘47. He was a freshman. And I had been taken on as a TA at Wheaton.
SHUSTER: Teaching Assistant.
LEE: A teaching assistant while I was studying for my MA at the graduate school. And Dr. Nystrom was asked by McCully would he coach McCully because he wanted to win (he made it very clear) “I want to win the Hearst Oratorical Contest.”
SHUSTER: This was...?
LEE: Which is a national program.
SHUSTER: That’s Hearst as in William Randolph Hearst?
LEE: As in William Randolph Hearst. He wanted to win the William Randolph Hearst Oratorical Contest (called the Hearst Oratorical Contest). And...Nystrom you know he’s a freshman. He seemed to be a little bit...a little bit too high expectant. And so Nystrom said to me, “Mark, there’s your first obligation outside the classroom.” I said “What is it?” He said “you coach McCully. He wants to go to the Hearst Oratorical Contest.” So I did. I remember saying to him, I said “Now if I coach you, I’m just...you know I’m not that much older than you. So you may think that because a young guy is coaching you that it may be suggestion. I’m not just making suggestions. I’m giving you analysis. And you’ve got to tell me you will do what I tell you to do if you want to win. If you just want to take on the attitude of a learner, fine. But you don’t tell me that you want to take on the attitude of a learner, you tell me you want to win!” He says “I want to win.” I says “Okay, I can tell you what you can do to win. It’s not necessarily what I would do if I were teaching. But I can tell you what I would do, therefore I’m not your teacher, I’m your coach. You do what the coach says.” He says “I’ll do it.” You know, all of the sudden he became very humble. He says “I’ll do it.” So I told him, I gave him the ideas and told him what gestures to use. I told him how to form his paragraphs, etc, etc. And he did them exactly as I told him to do them and he won. He won the National Hearst Oratorical Contest. But he was that kind of guy. He would win. If you could tell him that he could not reach the Indians of South America, he would reach the Indians of South America. And he did it until he was speared. [in January 1956]
SHUSTER: He was a strong competitor. A strong competitor.
LEE: A very strong competitor in the right sense of the word. He wouldn’t do anything that was wrong. When he played football, he played football all out. Really all out. And the football stadium’s named after him.
SHUSTER: At Wheaton College.
LEE: At Wheaton College.
SHUSTER: The field, yeah. Anything else about him that...?
LEE: No, after we finished with that...I’m trying to remember if he took my course then. But...I think he may have thought that he got everything from me that he was going to get [Shuster laughs] in that...but we always had friendly exchange. He was so pleased to have done well. And by the way, I used it later. My brother in law (my wife’s brother) came to me and he wanted to win a contest that was sponsored by the banks. Which was...the home loan banks. Home Savings and Loan? Savings and Loan?
LEE: They have a national oratorical contest. And I told him about McCully. And I said to Milt, my brother in law, I said “Now McCully won. I think you can win. But you have to do what I tell you to do.” [Shuster laughs]. He says “I’ll do it. I’ll do it.” And he did it, and he won it in Benjamin Franklin Hotel in Philadelphia. He called me and he says...he says “Mark, I won!” And I says “I knew you’d win.” [Shuster laughs] It was very interesting. And we’d use an illustration that grew out of my ministry here in Buffalo to start his speech. And someone said “I’ve never heard an illustration like that before that was real.” And he says “That was real, my brother-in-law told me so,” [both laugh].
SHUSTER: Did you know Jim Elliot as well?
LEE: I knew Jim Elliot. Jim Elliot was a student. He was starting when I was finishing.
SHUSTER: He was one of your students or...?
SHUSTER: When you were a student, he was a student.
LEE: When I was a student, I was finishing when he was starting.
LEE: In fact, he was there a little bit before he enrolled as I recall. I’m trying to remember. But he and I were together on the same train the day that the Japanese surrendered.
SHUSTER: That would have been August 1945.
LEE: Yeah, August 1945. I got on the train. We were still at war. While I was on the train, you could hear outside the train this big whoop of people yelling and screaming. And you knew it was a happy kind. The kind you get at a football game. And then...then Elliot got on. And I said to him “What happened?” And he says “The Japanese have surrendered.” And so we rode together. We got off at the same stop, five, six miles away in Lombard, Illinois. And he went to his church group that he was ministering to and I went to the church group that I was ministering to. Different churches, just coincidental that we were both on the train on the same day, going to the same stop the day that the Japanese surrendered. So it’s like remembering where you were when John Kennedy was assassinated, you know.
SHUSTER: Indeed. Was...were people out in the streets when you got to Lombard?
LEE: Oh yes! People were out in the streets. It wasn’t like in New York, like they had in New York, but people would go out in the streets and they were yelling. And there was...as I recall...an extra newspaper out relative to it. And in fact, I think I’ve kept the newspaper from the day in my files. I’ve got so many that I’d have to search for it. But...it was not...it was more than usual, but it was not...people weren’t crowding each other. But people were yelling across the street and that kind of thing.
SHUSTER: How would you describe Jim Elliot’s personality?
LEE: He was a very quiet fellow. Seemed always to be thinking within himself.
LEE: He didn’t seem...to me...he didn’t seem to have what I would call outgoing personality.
LEE: Now Elizabeth Howard who he married and she became famous as Elizabeth Elliot, telling first his story and then her own. But Elizabeth Elliot was the kind of person who would be between my kind of...rolling personality and his which was almost an inverted...almost an inverted personality. But she was able to draw him out and draw on his talents which were...spiritually very significant. She...she...she published his diary, you know and didn’t change it so that he revealed his manhood in what he said, his approach
SHUSTER: We actually have the original diary, she gave to the archives. We have them in the archives. [Collection 277]
LEE: Yeah. I’ve read some of those.
SHUSTER: Uh-huh. Anything else that you want to add about Jim or Elizabeth Elliot?
LEE: No, Jim was a wrestler. The kind of sport...the kind of sport that his personality would...wrestlers aren’t flamboyant...
SHUSTER: Well, the ones on TV are, but...
LEE: Oh the ones on TV...
SHUSTER: But maybe in college they’re not.
LEE: The college wrestling and TV wrestling [Shuster laughing] have nothing in common. Except slamming bodies, I suppose. But he was a wrestler and quite good at it, quite good at it yes.
SHUSTER: Yeah I...
LEE: He was all man. But...and all Christian. He was all man and all Christian. But as far as outgoing to other people, there are very few people who would attempt to break through his facade.
SHUSTER: I don’t know if you know this, but when Billy Graham came to Wheaton, he was on the wrestling team for a semester or so. It’s probably one of the very, very few things that he was not successful in...
SHUSTER: ...that he turned his hand to.
LEE: He’d be...he’d be too slight of body to be a wrestler. He really would.
SHUSTER: Long and thin.
SHUSTER: Did you mention during lunch that you also knew Roger Youserian?
SHUSTER: Did you mention...I think you mentioned during lunch that you also knew Roger Youserian?
LEE: Roger Youderian.
SHUSTER: Yes, I’m sorry.
LEE: Roger Youderian. Roger Youderian was a lot like Jim Elliot. Very much like Jim Elliot.
SHUSTER: How did you know him?
LEE: Well, he was a student when I was a professor at Northwestern.
LEE: And he was the kind of fellow that you felt like he was always going someplace. He knew where he was going, but nobody else did. And Elliot would sometimes give that impression. And Youderian was a committed Christian fellow. He wanted to prepare himself as much as necessary. To be a missionary. And I would remember times that you would see him going from one room to another at the college where he’d very sternly move from one to the other. And you’d think that he might have some of the repartee with the students but he didn’t. These men sometimes seem to be...other worldly in a way.
SHUSTER: All business...
LEE: Yeah. All business and it’s personal. In other words, it’s not...it’s not...community so much. It’s personal. And you got that feeling that they were very personal people. I wrote the Youderian...statement that is published by Northwestern. That they’re very proud of. And somebody came to me and said “we understand you’re writing the...statement about Youderian that the college will communicate and remember.” I said yes. And they belong to a certain printing group. And they put that in beautiful, painted material. And the last time I was at Northwestern, I walked by it and there it was on the wall. And I said to somebody, “Boy, you know...” (I was kidding of course) I said “Boy you know that’s a beautiful statement.” And he says “Yes, we think it’s a wonderful statement.” And I says “Who wrote it?” And he says “Oh, we don’t know who wrote it” [Shuster laughs]. He says “All we know is that it remembers Youderian.” And I said “I wrote it.” He says “No!” I says “yeah.” He says “How do you know?” I says...
SHUSTER: How do you know!? [laughs]
LEE: I says “I know because they made one little mistake.” And then I showed them where they made one little.... It’s a B turned like a D turned like a B. And there it is. And no one ever told me. But when I read it, I saw it and I said it. And they said “Well, it’s no time...it’s not time to do it over again before we need it for the service.” And I says “Fine, use it.” But no one ever found it until I told them it was there.
SHUSTER: So this is a memorial statement after he died...?
LEE: A memorial statement, yes.
SHUSTER: Did you happen to know Clyde Kilby when you were...?
LEE: I knew Clyde Kilby very well. He was an outstanding man.
SHUSTER: How would you describe him?
LEE: Excellent teacher, supreme teacher.
SHUSTER: How would you describe him as a person?
LEE: Well, he looked like a professor. He looked light, he wasn’t heavy. He was...he was not tall. I don’t think of him as short, but he wasn’t tall. He was very articulate, he was very clear about his questions and answers. He would listen Well, to you.
SHUSTER: Did you have him as a teacher?
LEE: No, no. But because of the kinds of things that I did at Wheaton, I talked and worked with a lot of teachers that I never attended class to. For instance, Dr.... all of the people in the athletic department. We were friends, but I didn’t have...I didn’t have any classes from them. Coach [Edward A.] Coray and I were friends, he was in my home and...not in Wheaton but when he was in Minneapolis, he’d be in my home. And one night...we were talking and he was here. And so I said “Coach, Wheaton has had such a good year. They’re certainly going to lose a game this year.” And he said “No, no. They’re not going to lose a game. They’ve got the team and I’ve studied the other teams. They’re not going to lose.” Just them, somebody came in, it was Dick Hills or somebody. Dick Hills was an athlete tackle on the football...
SHUSTER: Later a missionary.
LEE: No, no, he was in Ed...he was the...he became the...he became the school...head of education in Gary, Indiana.
SHUSTER: Oh okay, I was thinking of someone else.
LEE: In Gary...you’re thinking of another...
SHUSTER: I’m thinking of Dick Hillis.
LEE: Dick Hillis! Dick Hills and Hillis. Two different people.
SHUSTER: I’m sorry.
LEE: According to coach Coray, may have been the finest...finest tackle that he had ever seen on a Wheaton team. And I think it may have been Dick Hills that came in while I was talking to coach Coray and Dick said “did you hear the news!?” And I says “what news?” And he says “I just got news.” Wheaton lost [Shuster laughs]. Coach Coray couldn’t believe it. I’ll never forget that. He almost turned ashen. He couldn’t believe that Wheaton had lost. But they had won up until that date. And while we were talking, word came that Wheaton lost.
[remainder of interview, about 18 minutes, closed to use until further notice]