Oral Roberts, arguably the most well-known evangelist from Oklahoma, has died. He was 91.
Decades ago, Roberts made a name for himself as an itinerant minister, holding tent meetings which drew many people to hear his fervent preaching. He was especially known for his healing ministry.
A televangelist and author, he is best known as the founder of Oral Roberts University, a private Christian university in Tulsa.
Roberts was born Granville "Oral" Roberts on Jan. 24, 1918, in Bebee, Oklahoma.
He was the fifth child of the Rev. Ellis M. Roberts and his wife, Claudius Priscilla. His mother was of American Indian descent and he was reportedly proud of his American Indian ancestry.
Roberts married schoolteacher Evelyn Lutman (now deceased) who came from the same Pentecostal Holiness background. The Roberts had four children: Rebecca (now deceased), Ronnie (now deceased), Roberta and Richard.
Oral Roberts came from a poor family and developed tuberculosis. He said he was healed of the disease by a traveling evangelist who held one of the tent meetings that were popular at the time.
Roberts himself became known for his healing ministry, and he and his wife traveled throughout the country holding tent revivals and prayer meetings focusing on healing the sick. He was the pastor at churches in Oklahoma and Georgia, while studying at Oklahoma Baptist University and Phillips University, now Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa.
In 1947, he founded the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association and began conducting evangelistic crusades. He conducted more than 300 crusades on six continents.
In 1954, Roberts brought television cameras into his healing services to give TV viewers a "front-row seat to miracles." He began a television program "Oral Roberts Presents" years later.
Roberts founded Oral Roberts University on 500 acres in 1963 in Tulsa. His longtime friend, the Rev. Billy Graham, officially dedicated the university four years later. Roberts founded the City of Faith Medical and Research Center in 1981. It closed after eight years.
A private family internment is planned. Arrangements for a public memorial service in Tulsa are pending.
Notable Oklahomans comment on the passing of evangelist Oral Roberts: U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin, R-Oklahoma City: I am saddened by the passing of Oral Roberts. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and loved ones. He touched many lives not only in Oklahoma but throughout the world. I had the privilege to know Mr. Roberts personally and remember praying with him on ORUâ€™s campus. He signed a note in my Bible that will always remind me of his strength and devotion to God and Country. Gov. Brad Henry: Oklahoma and the nation have lost a truly remarkable man of God. The influence and impact of Oral Roberts and his ministry are beyond measure. His faith, compassion and charity have left a legacy that will be felt for generations to come. Our thoughts and prayers are with Rev. Robertsâ€™ family and loved ones during this difficult time. Mark Rutland, Oral Roberts University president: â€œThe Oral Roberts University family was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of our dear Chancellor, Oral Roberts. Chancellor Roberts was one of the brilliant spiritual lights of the 20th century and a giant of the Christian faith. At the core of his legacy is a great university that bears his name. Like millions world wide, I am mourning his passing and am grateful for his visionary life and contributions.â€ Kenneth Hagin Jr., Broken Arrow evangelist, head of Kenneth Hagin Ministries, Rhema Bible Church and Rhema Bible Training Center in Broken Arrow: Oral Roberts has always been a role model for me and other ministers. He was a great man of God and only eternity will reveal all the great influence he has had on the kingdom of God. He had a powerful, anointed ministry. He was a powerful man of God who obviously had an anointing. U.S. Rep. John Sullivan, R-Tulsa: I am personally saddened by the death of Oral Roberts. Rev. Roberts was not only an Oklahoma icon, but an icon of the modern Christian movement in the United States. Roberts and his ministry advanced the teachings of Christ in ways we will never fully understand. Rev. Roberts was a pioneer in Christian higher education and his namesake university has become an Oklahoma landmark. I know that Oral Roberts University will persevere as it has in recent years, and take the life lessons of Oral Roberts to heart. While Oral Roberts leadership, wisdom and faith in God will be missed, they will live on everyday in the hearts and minds of countless ORU students, alumni and so many other Oklahomans. May God Bless Oral Roberts, his family and the generations he has touched. U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore: Oral Roberts was a man who was profoundly committed to his faith, family and community throughout his lifelong ministry. He touched more people than any other Oklahoman of his generation. While he changed lives for the better one at a time, he also founded great institutions like Oral Roberts University that contributed to the well-being of the wider community. He was loved and will be missed by millions of people across the country and around the world. Certainly my sympathies and the sympathies of every Oklahoman go out to his family and many friends during this time of bereavement. U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa: Everybody I met while serving in the U.S. Army in the mid-1950s knew about Tulsa because of Oral Roberts. Oral Roberts was better known than Will Rogers. He was just on everyoneâ€™s pedestal. He put Tulsa, Oklahoma on the map at that time State Sen. Dan Newberry, R-Tulsa: Today the world mourns the passing of a great man, a great leader and a great mentor, who leaves behind an indelible legacy of ministry and service. His impact stretched beyond the boundaries of our state to every corner of the world. Age never diminished his passion for the gospel. He finished the race with zeal, and in a manner befitting a man of his tremendous character and unwavering faith. I was privileged to know Dr. Roberts personally and his words of wisdom will be with me forever. He was always ready to give words of encouragement and direction. Dr. Roberts took the time to hear from God and conveyed the message with passion, such as â€˜God is a good Godâ€™, â€˜Something good is going to happen to youâ€™ and â€˜Expect a miracleâ€™, words that are still relevant today. I can never adequately convey my gratitude for the legacy he leaves and he will be greatly missed. Mart Green, Oral Roberts University board chairman: Chancellor Oral Roberts was a true disciple of Christ and his contributions to the kingdom of God will live on for many years to come. Just 10 days from Christmas, we know Oral will celebrate the birth of Christ with his heavenly father. The Oral Roberts University family grieves his loss yet celebrates the legacy he leaves behind. B.> Billy Graham, evangelist: Oral Roberts was a man of God, and a great friend in ministry. I loved him as a brother. We had many quiet conversations over the years. I invited Oral to speak at one of our early international conferences on evangelism held in Berlin in the 1960â€™s. Oral was preceded in death by his wonderful wife Evelyn, who I also knew and loved. She was a woman of God, and a powerful prayer warrior. Just three weeks ago, I was privileged to talk to Oral over the telephone. During the short conversation, he said to me that he was near the end of his lifeâ€™s journey. I look forward to the day that I will see Oral and Evelyn Roberts again in Heaven â€” our eternal home.