CHARLOTTE, N.C. —Well-wishers lined freeway overpasses and small-town streets to honor the late Rev. Billy Graham as his motorcade crossed his beloved home state of North Carolina for four hours on Saturday from his mountain chapel to namesake library in the state’s largest city.

Adults and children stood behind wooden barricades and yellow tape, police officers saluted, and admirers captured the moment on cellphones along the route. Fire trucks parked on overpasses along Interstate 40.

Pallbearers, followed by family members, carried the coffin into the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, which will serve as a backdrop for his funeral.

Franklin Graham said he was fulfilling a promise to take his father’s body to Charlotte. He said was overwhelmed by the “outpouring of love we are seeing as we travel.”

The motorcade for “America’s pastor,” which began at the training center operated by Graham’s evangelistic association in Asheville, was a chance for residents in some of the evangelist’s favorite places to pay tribute. Graham often shopped or caught trains in Black Mountain. He made his home in the nearby community of Montreat.

“He has never really reveled in all of the celebrity. It’s come with the territory,” said Joe Tyson, a family friend who runs a furniture store in Black Mountain, where he watched the procession. “But they’ve managed to live a very normal life for such famous people. And I think he’d be very proud that his neighbors turned out and quietly celebrated his reward and his passage into heaven.”

Graham, who died Wednesday at his home in North Carolina’s mountains at 99, reached hundreds of millions of listeners around the world with his rallies and his pioneering use of television.

A viewing will be held at the library in Charlotte on Monday and Tuesday. Graham will also lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday and Thursday, the first time a private citizen has been accorded such recognition since civil rights hero Rosa Parks in 2005.

The procession was part of more than a week of mourning before his burial Friday. He will be laid to rest at the foot of a cross-shaped walkway at the library, in a simple prison-made plywood coffin next to his wife, Ruth, who died in 2007.


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