August 13, 1919|
Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S.
|Died||September 21, 2007
Atlantis, Florida, U.S.
|Children||Rex, Jr., Don, Charles, and Elizabeth|
|Parents||Alpha E. Humbard and Martha Bell|
|Cathedral of Tomorrow, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio|
Alpha Rex Emmanuel Humbard (August 13, 1919 – September 21, 2007) was a well-known American television evangelist whose Cathedral of Tomorrow show was aired on over 600 stations at the peak of its popularity.
Life and career
Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, to Pentecostal evangelists, Rex Humbard was the first evangelist to have a weekly nationwide television program in the United States, running from 1952 to 1983, although his first television broadcast was in 1949. Humbard's $4 million Cathedral of Tomorrow church in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, a suburb of nearby Akron, was built in 1958 specifically to accommodate television equipment, crew, and chorus as well as seating for 5,400 people.
Humbard's television programs featured gospel music such as the popular Cathedral Quartet. Humbard's wife, Maude Aimee, and his children were also often featured on the programs. His ministry eventually extended to Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Far East, Australia, Latin America and Africa, giving it a worldwide reach of 8 million viewers, greater than any of his contemporaries by the late 1970s. In Brazil, he attracted large crowds at the giant soccer stadium in São Paulo for weeks. Humbard officiated at Elvis Presley's funeral, as Presley had been an admirer of Humbard's ministry.
In the 1960s, Humbard's ministry started to purchase businesses through a for-profit arm to raise money. Over time they owned a girdle factory in Brooklyn, an office tower in Akron, a college on Mackinac Island, an advertising agency, an apartment building, and other assets.
Humbard's ministry ran into financial problems in the early 1970s. Starting in 1959, the ministry had sold bonds and promissory notes through its own team of salesmen. The securities were not registered and came under the scrutiny of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Officials in at least six states halted the sale of the securities. Humbard said that the SEC did not allow him to count expected bequests from wills as assets, that the ministry never missed an interest payment, and that the investors were not worried about losing their money. In the end, he was forced to sell off nearly all of the ministry's assets and cut off the overseas operations.
Humbard was inducted into the Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1993 by Ohio Governor George Voinovich. He was termed one of the "Top 25 Principal Architects of the American Century" by U.S. News & World Report on December 27, 1999.
Humbard began to build a rotating-tower restaurant (similar to Calgary Tower) at his Cathedral of Tomorrow complex in Cuyahoga Falls, which was also slated to hold a transmission tower for his planned local TV station on Channel 55, WCOT. During that time, though, the SEC investigation mentioned above occurred and Humbard had to stop construction of the tower. Years later, the tower was purchased by a local businessman and is now used as a cellular phone tower.
Humbard's son Rex, Jr. succeeded his father in the ministry after the family moved to Florida in 1982. But Humbard's television ministry was influential in promoting[how?] an independent Christian television station in Canton, Ohio, WDLI (Channel 17), which later was purchased by the Trinity Broadcasting Network as its Cleveland-area station. Another son, Charles, heads the UP television network.
The rest of Humbard's Cathedral of Tomorrow complex was sold in 1994 to television evangelist Ernest Angley, along with the Channel 55 license, which was used by Angley's Winston Broadcasting Network division for the current Akron-licensed and Cuyahoga Falls-based CW affiliate, WBNX-TV.
After retiring to Lantana, Florida, in the 1980s with his wife, Maude Aimee (whom he married in 1942), Humbard was still often seen on television broadcasts and at public appearances preaching Christianity. He wrote two autobiographies, Miracles in My Life and, in 2006, The Soul Winning Century, The Humbard Family Legacy. In April 2007, he was inducted into the Arkansas Walk of Fame.
He is buried at Rose Hill Burial Park in Fairlawn, Ohio.
- CNN obituary, September 22 2007.[dead link]
- "Colette M. Jenkins, "Humbard helped to shape modern ministry"". Akron Beacon Journal. 2007-09-23. Retrieved 2007-09-23.
- "Jim Carney, "Humbard biography recalls tearful Presley"". Akron Beacon Journal. 2007-08-18. Retrieved 2007-09-22.
- US TV evangelist Rex Humbard dies 22 September 2007
- Rex Humbard - preacher and pioneer of televangelism September 23, 2007, New York Times
- "Religion: Rex in the Red". TIME. 1973-03-05. Retrieved 2010-10-10. "Officials in six states have banned further sale of the securities sold by the cathedral because they were not properly registered. Last month Ohio commerce regulators won a temporary restraining order prohibiting him from selling securities, from encouraging investors not to redeem their holdings or from disposing of cathedral assets....Humbard got into high finance in 1959, a year after building his 5,000-seat cathedral. Finding that TV time to spread the Word was expensive, he followed the example of other religious and educational institutions and began issuing bonds and promissory notes. But he did not sell the securities through licensed brokers. He formed his own traveling squad of 20 salesmen, many of them ministers in the cathedral, who have since raised $ 12 million from small investors in 47 states."
- McMurran, Kristin (1981-05-11). "If Jesus Were Preaching Today, Says His Tv Apostle Rex Humbard, 'he Would Never Get into Politics'". People. Retrieved 2010-10-10. "By 1973 his holdings included a girdle factory in Brooklyn, a $10 million office complex in Akron and a college on Michigan's Mackinac Island (see Mackinac College (Humbard)). Then, as he was constructing a 750-foot TV tower to transmit his services, the SEC blew the whistle. Over a 14-year period Humbard had sold, through unlicensed agents, $12 million in securities that were not properly registered. Ordered to divest himself of his property, he sold everything but his home, cut off his overseas operations and set up a trust fund to pay off investors."
- Jenkins, Colette M. (2007-09-22). "Rex Humbard dies". Akron Beacon Journal. Retrieved 2010-10-10. "The Rev. Rex Humbard, the man behind the Akron area’s claim as the home to televangelism died Friday at a hospital in Atlantis, Florida. ... Humbard, who turned 88 on Aug. 13, suffered from congestive heart failure."