Granville Oral Roberts, 1918-2009


Many news outlets have been reporting the death on Tuesday of pioneer televangelist Oral Roberts. You probably know some of the more interesting and controversial stories about Roberts, including his claims of being able to raise people from the dead and of receiving visions from a 900-foot Jesus; or his famous 1987 fundraising stunt where he told viewers that unless he raised $8 million, “God would ‘call him home.'” (He raised $9.1 million).
But you may not have known that Roberts made at least a few visits to Grandfather Mountain, NC, most notably as a speaker at the 1976 “Singing on the Mountain” gospel festival. Roberts shot a nationally-televised prime time special at Grandfather that year, featuring Roy Clark (among others).
Roberts apparently enjoyed the golfing opportunities afforded by the Grandfather Golf and Country Club (if you look very closely at the image above, you can see he’s wearing a “GGCC” sweater). One fall visit, Roberts got a personalized Hugh Morton tour of the natural wonders of the area. According to Julia Morton, “Mr. Roberts came to Linville to visit a friend of ours from Tulsa. Rain kept him from playing golf so Hugh entertained him by showing him the countryside.” It was during this visit that Morton took the lovely portrait of Roberts below.

5 thoughts on “Granville Oral Roberts, 1918-2009”

  1. In addition to Roy Clark and his Nashville-based-band, the 1976 Oral Roberts one hour TV special included Rev. Richard Roberts and wife Patti (Oral Roberts’ son and daughter-in-law). In his book “Making A Difference in North Carolina,” Hugh Morton says that the TV production was directed by Jerry Lewis and was aired on 450 television stations. (page 217)

  2. The young man in the background of the picture of Oral Roberts with Roy Clark is David Alexander, organizer and director of the Grandfather Mountain Cloggers. His team was extremely outstanding and danced hundreds of places, encluding the Inaugural Parade, Jerry Lewis’ telathon, and Charles Kuralt’s “On the Road”. I can’t begin to remember them all.

  3. Here is some more info about Oral Roberts,
    According to a 1987 article in the New York Review of Books by Martin Gardner, the “most accurate and best documented biography is Oral Roberts: An American Life, an objective study by David Harrell Jr., a historian at Auburn University. Two out-of-print books take a more critical stance: James Morris’ The Preachers (St. Martin’s Press, 1973) and Jerry Sholes’ Give Me That Prime-Time Religion (Hawthorn, 1979).

  4. It is my understanding from my Father.thst Oral Robert’s started preaching at a little Pentecostal Holiness Cburch in My Grandparents and Parents Backyard (for over 50 years then and, almost) and across (1/2 -1 block from Dr Cozarts House on the bottom corner of Soith Main Street.where Ballentine Funeral Home originally sat across from.the Springs (now)and the Masonic Lodge on South Main Street.
    I believe the name of the street.the little church then smaller, now larger is Spring Street and backs up to Renalds (Reynolds misspelling) Drive in the Fuquay Springs Historic District portion of Fuquay-Varina NC 27526. My Daddy would have known.

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