The husband of Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, died Wednesday after he was found unresponsive Monday in a backyard pool at the couple’s Raleigh house.
Anne Lotz said that Danny Lotz, 78, a retired dentist and her husband of 49 years, died in Raleigh’s Rex Hospital shortly before noon where he was taken after she found him in their pool.
A statement from the Lotz family said his heart had stopped while he was swimming. Emergency responders were able to restart his heart before taking him to Rex, the statement said.
He was surrounded by family when he died.
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In a Facebook posting, Anne Lotz, a Raleigh-based evangelist, said her husband was diagnosed with severe adult-onset type 1 diabetes when he was 50 and had received dialysis for more than 10 years. She wrote that he lost sight in one eye and hearing in one ear. He also had heart disease that required five stents in his arteries.
“Yet he never complained, never slowed down, never gave up, never stopped investing in the lives of others,” she wrote. “As a New Yorker, he was plain-spoken. As a German he was stubborn. As a Christian he was a compassionate servant leader.”
In a surprise ceremony in January, Lotz, the son of a minister, was given the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, which recognizes outstanding North Carolinians for their lifetime of service to the state.
At 6 feet 7 inches tall, Danny Lotz was a sophomore forward on the 1957 basketball team at UNC-Chapel Hill that was unbeaten and won the national championship. He’d been involved nationally with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
His alma mater sent a statement Wednesday that Lotz and his teammates “permanently etched their names in the history books as members of the undefeated 1957 national champions, but his positive impact on people went far beyond basketball.”
In the title game against Kansas and Wilt Chamberlain, Lotz saw little action until the final minute when Lennie Rosenbluth, the team’s star forward, fouled out, teammate Joe Quigg of Fayetteville said Wednesday.
Coach Frank McGuire, Quigg said, settled on five starters, and “he generally went with them through a game.” But when Rosenbluth fouled out, Lotz and another player were pressed into action for the final minute in regular time and for three five-minute overtimes.
Quigg, a dental school classmate with Lotz at UNC, said Lotz came to Chapel Hill from Northport, N.Y., as a heralded basketball and football player.
His first year in dental school, football Coach Jim Tatum gave him a scholarship to play tight end for the Tar Heels. “That took him through his first year of dental school,” said Quigg, who practiced dentistry in Fayetteville. “Dental school was hard enough, but to play football too was an unbelievable feat.”
Quigg said Lotz was never without a smile, even when he got sick.
“He was almost a perfect guy,” he said. “He never cursed. He never said anything bad about anybody. All of us guys on purpose would say four-letter words, and Danny wouldn’t even flinch. He just had that inner spirit. You’d never find a nicer, more solid person.”
Staff writer Joe Marusak contributed