Evangelist Robert Schuller, Crystal Cathedral Megachurch, Founder, Dies

The Rev. Robert H. Schuller, the Southern California televangelist and author who beamed his upbeat messages on faith and redemption to millions from his landmark Crystal Cathedral only to see his empire crumble in his waning years, has died. He was 88.

Schuller died early Thursday at a care facility in Artesia, daughter Carol Schuller Milner said. In 2013, he was diagnosed with a tumor in his esophagus that had spread to his lymph nodes and began treatment.

Once a charismatic and well-known presence on the televangelist circuit, Schuller faded from view in recent years after watching his church collapse amid a disastrous leadership transition and sharp declines in viewership and donations that ultimately forced the ministry to file for bankruptcy.

The soaring, glass-paned Crystal Cathedral — the touchstone of Schuller’s storied ministry — was sold to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange in 2011, and Schuller lost a legal battle the following year to collect more than $5 million from his former ministry for claims of copyright infringement and breach of contract.

Schuller, who preached in a flowing purple robe and outsized aviator glasses, suffered a mild heart attack in 1997 but was quickly back on the pulpit, saying “the positive person” is not afraid of life’s surprises. In July 2013, he was hospitalized for days after a late-night fall at his home in Orange.