Pat Robertson’s wife, who helped found Christian Broadcasting Network, dead at 94

Dede Robertson, the wife of evangelist and former presidential candidate Pat Robertson, died Tuesday at her home in Virginia Beach, according to the Washington Times.

She was 94.

A statement from the Christian Broadcasting Network — which she helped found and which referred to her as the “first lady” of the network — did not give a cause of death.

Born in Columbus, Ohio in 1927, she graduated from Ohio State University before working as a fashion model and competing as a beauty queen.

She moved on to the Yale School of Nursing, where she met a Yale Law student named Pat Robertson. They married in 1954.

Dede Robertson became born again in the Christian faith several months after her husband and the two of them embarked on a decades-long journey which saw the couple become influential conservative and religious icons.

After the two had lived on a commune in New York, they bought a small TV station in Virginia which broadcast Christian content; it would turn into the broadcasting powerhouse that was the Christian Broadcasting Network.

“Mom was the glue that held the Robertson family together,” said her son Gordon Robertson, now the CEO of CBN.

“She was always working behind the scenes. If it weren’t for Mom, there wouldn’t be a CBN.”

She was also by her husband’s side during his 1987-1988 campaign for the presidency, which saw the evangelist carry four states during the primaries and mount a surprisingly effective challenge to frontrunners George H.W. Bush and Robert Dole.

“Dede Robertson was a woman of great faith, a champion of the Gospel, and a remarkable servant of Christ who has left an indelible print on all that she set her hand to during her extraordinary life,” Pat Robertson said in a statement.

In addition to her roles at CBN and aiding her husband’s political campaigns, she was a writer, philanthropist, and board member of several institutions.

She and Pat had four children.

“My mom was a rock. She was a rock throughout our childhood. Dad had to travel a lot, but Mom was always there for us kids… that gives great security to children,” said Ann LeBlanc, her daughter.

“I think the thing that’s been wonderful for all of us children to see was the extraordinary growth in my parents… as they got older, it seems like they were getting closer together… there was a sweetness and a gentleness in both of them. That was a great example for us kids to see,” her son, Tim Robertson, said.

Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.