RALEIGH, N.C. – For the Rev. Billy Graham, America’s most famous evangelist across a career that lasted six decades, the prospect of old age and death was for a long time something he tried not to think about, despite his convictions about the eternity that awaits human beings.

“I fought growing old in every way,” Graham, who turns 93 today, writes in the newly published “Nearing Home,” a book that ranges from Scripture quotations about the end of life to brass-tacks advice on financial planning.

“I faithfully exercised and was careful to pace myself as I began to feel the grasp of Old Man Time. This was not a transition that I welcomed, and I began to dread what I knew would follow.”

Graham’s book, his 30th, comes not only as he reaches another year, but also as America’s huge baby-boom generation moves into old age, its senior members now eligible for Social Security and retirement.

And although in recent years Graham has stepped away from active public ministry, his willingness to be frank about the trials as well as the pleasures of growing old may still have an effect on the millions of Americans whose lives coincided with his time as the country’s most famous preacher.

“I find that, talking to students and a lot of younger people, many of them don’t know who Billy Graham is,” said William Martin, author of “A Prophet With Honor: The Billy Graham Story” and a professor at Rice University. “But the people who will be most interested in this are older, and they do remember and adore Billy Graham.”

Graham has said he wants to preach one last sermon before he dies, and while the new book is not quite that, it has a similar set of themes.

Pondering Bible passages on aging and death, exhorting his readers to make sensible changes in their lives – “Take full advantage of your company’s retirement plan, and borrow from it only in an extreme emergency” – in down-to-earth language, Graham’s ultimate focus is always on Jesus Christ.

“We were not meant for this world alone,” he writes. “We were meant for Heaven, our final home.”

It’s advice that youth-fixated boomers might not be immediately eager to hear, but coming from Graham it may have more influence.

Andy Williams reveals he has bladder cancer

BRANSON, Mo. – Singer Andy Williams told the crowd at his Christmas show Saturday night that he has bladder cancer.

The Tri-Lakes News reported that the 83-year-old Williams appeared early in the show at the Moon River Theatre and vowed to return next year to celebrate his 75th year in show business.

“I do have cancer of the bladder,” Williams said. “But that is no longer a death sentence. People with cancer are getting through this thing. They’re kicking it, and they’re winning more and more every year. And I’m going to be one of them.”

The “Moon River” singer missed planned performances this fall with an undisclosed medical condition, and the theater announced recently that he would likely miss his holiday schedule as well.

The newspaper reported Williams has not started treatment.

Williams’ appearance Saturday was a surprise and brought a standing ovation from a nearly full house.

‘Queen of Soul’ honored at rock hall

CLEVELAND – Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul,” has been honored in a star-studded tribute at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

The Plain Dealer reported that Franklin’s songs were performed by Lauryn Hill, Dennis Edwards of the Temptations and Chaka Khan.

The 69-year-old Detroit soul singer wasn’t scheduled to perform Saturday night, but toward the end of the three-hour event she took a seat behind a piano and traded lines with Edwards in a rendition of “A Song for You.”

Franklin received a key to the city from Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Case Western Reserve University.

The show ended a weeklong American Music Masters tribute to Franklin.

– From news service reports