Rex and Maude Aimee Humbard
Rose Hill Burial Park, Fairlawn, Summit County, Ohio
THIS AKRON ICON OFFICIATED THE FUNERAL OF ELVIS PRESLEY! Now that's something. WHILE I AM NOT PROMOTING REX HUMBARD OR HIS MINISTRY, he was ahead of the times with his use of the media for religious purposes. I remember saying to someone I was from Akron and often I would get the response, "Oh, I watch Rex Humbard all the time!" He is also known for the tower in Cuyahoga Falls that he did not have enough money to complete...it has since been bought and is used as a cellular tower. Check out the youtube and remember: www.youtube.com/watch?v=znayJkg4qSI
This pioneering televangelist who broadcast from Akron, Ohio officiated at Elvis Presley's funeral, as Elvis was an admirer of Humbard's ministry and gospel music.
Rex Humbard, a frontrunner in televangelism who ministered to millions of weekly viewers—including Elvis Presley—died September 21, 2007.
Humbard died of natural causes at a hospital near his Florida home, according to his ministry's press release. He was 88.
One of the frontrunners of televangelism, Humbard averaged 8 million viewers on Sundays from 1952 to 1999, his ministry estimates. His sermons broadcasted to more than 2,000 stations worldwide in 91 languages from his 5,400-seat Cathedral of Tomorrow church in Akron, Ohio.
Elvis Presley watched "his preacher" on Sundays, and Humbard officiated Presley's funeral service.
Humbard began a career in media at age 13, when he began broadcasting on KTHS radio in Arkansas, singing gospel songs and inviting listeners to hear his father preach. In the early 1940s, Humbard began a daily radio program.
Humbard eventually brought the programming and distribution ideas from radio into television in the early 1950s, said Larry Eskridge, associate director of the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals.
"It had an aura of show," Eskridge said. "It was more of a TV product than a church service. He understood the medium."
In its Dec. 27, 1999 edition, U.S. News & World Report named Humbard one of the 25 shapers of the modern era.
Humbard took more of an empire-approach in the 1970s when he began expanding his efforts. He owned Mackinac College in Michigan, an advertising agency, a plastics company, and a large office building in Akron.
After his ministry suffered internal disputes and extensive borrowing, it closed the college and began selling properties. Humbard began to shrink away from the public scene after he was removed from his televangelist position in 1982 and eventually sold the cathedral to a fellow televangelist.
Unlike several other television preachers, Humbard did not use his platform to promote a political vision.
"For many of these other guys, really, there's no end in sight to what they could accomplish," Eskridge said. "Humbard had a sense of a ceiling. A TV preacher is not going to go above that level."