He was undoubtedly an icon for the religious right for decades. On May 15, 2007, the Reverend Jerry Falwell is dead at age 73.
Falwell died suddenly of what his doctor suspects was the final throes of heart disease.
“He was found without a pulse - never regained a pulse and it is a little too early to speculate this. I would assume that he passed away from the cardiac rhythm abnormality,” said Dr. Carl Moore, Falwell’s personal physician.
Falwell had a history of respiratory problems, but according to his friend and colleague, who had breakfast with Falwell the morning of his death, there were no recent warning signs.
“Dr. Falwell was talking about the future and about plans for the future, and about some encounters he had with Liberty students yesterday, that were very encouraging to him,” said Ronald Godwin, executive Vice President of Liberty University.
Staff members later found Falwell unconscious in his office at Liberty University, the school he founded in 1971.
Falwell was one of the most powerful voices on the religious right, a movement which continues to influence political debate at the highest levels. From founding a small church in Lynchburg, Va., to becoming the first televangelist, Falwell built his fame on his controversial views. He derided homosexuals and once blamed the Sept. 11, attacks on the sins of Americans. In recent years, polls show that even evangelical Christians had an unfavorable view of his stances.
Just hours after his death, mourners began gathering at the Thomas Road Baptist Church, where Falwell began his ministry. He is survived by his wife and three children.