VIRGINIA BEACH — Regent University announced the passing of founder, Chancellor and CEO Marion Gordon “Pat” Robertson on Thursday, June 8, at the age of 93.
Robertson’s death was first announced by The Christian Broadcasting Network.
In 1977, Robertson incorporated CBN University, and classes began in 1978. Later renamed Regent University, the Virginia Beach-based school now has over 30,000 alumni from its on-campus and online programs.
In addition to his roles at Regent University, Robertson was founder and chairman of The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), founder of Operation Blessing Relief and Development Corporation, founder and president of the American Center for Law and Justice, and co-founder and chairman of International Family Entertainment, Inc.
Born on March 22, 1930, in Lexington, Virginia, to A. Willis Robertson and Gladys Churchill Robertson, his father served for 34 years in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.
He married Adelia “Dede” Elmer Robertson in 1954. In 1959, Robertson moved his family to Tidewater, and filed incorporation papers for The Christian Broadcasting Network, Inc., raising funds to purchase a defunct UHF station. On October 1, 1961, CBN began broadcasting from WYAH-TV in Portsmouth. Today, CBN is one of the world’s largest evangelistic ministries.
Known for the long-running “The 700 Club,” CBN’s flagship program grew out of a telethon in 1963, when Robertson asked a “club” of 700 viewers to give $10 a month. In 1966, the program was created, airing on weekdays offering interviews, prayer and ministry. He became a familiar face on television, not shy of making controversial statements from his platform. The show, which he hosted until October 1, 2021, remains one of the longest-running religious television programs in America.
Robertson was also a prolific author of 24 books, and in 1986, sought the Republican nomination for president of the United States, finishing ahead of Vice President George H.W. Bush in the Iowa caucuses. Ultimately losing the nomination to Bush, who he later endorsed, Robertson founded and served as a president of the Christian Coalition of America until his resignation in 2001, and remained a political force for religious conservatives’ grass roots efforts for the remainder of his life.
Robertson was the recipent of numerous awards from religious and political organizations. He was a past president of the Council on National Policy. In 1982, he served on President Ronald Reagan’s Task Force on Victims of Crime. He previously served on the Board of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and on the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors in the State of Virginia.
He graduated with honors from McCallie School, a military prep school in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa at Washington and Lee University in 1946, where he graduated magna cum laude in 1950.
In 1948, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, and served as the assistant adjutant of the First Marine Division in Korea after his graduation from Washington and Lee. He was promoted to first lieutenant in 1952 upon his return to the United States.
Robertson received a law degree from Yale Law School in 1955 and his master’s in divinity from New York Theological Seminary in 1959.