Evangelist Oral Roberts, who rose from tent revivals to found a multimillion-dollar organization and an Oklahoma university bearing his name, died today at 91 of complications from pneumonia in Newport Beach, Calif. He had been hospitalized after a fall on Saturday. Roberts was a pioneer on two fronts—he helped bring spirit-filled charismatic Christianity into the mainstream and took his trademark revivals to television, a new frontier for religion.
Roberts overcame tuberculosis at age 17, and he credited that triumph with leading him to become one of the country's most famous ministers. He gave up a local pastorate in Enid, Oklahoma, in 1947 to enter an evangelistic ministry in Tulsa to pray for the healing of the whole person—the body, mind, and spirit. The philosophy led many to call him a "faith healer," a label he rejected. By the 1960s and '70s, Roberts was reaching millions around the world through broadcasting, publications, and personal appearances.