Dr. Tim F. LaHaye, the son of a Detroit autoworker who grew up to become a respected pastor, international best-seller and prominent evangelical leader, died July 25, 2016 in a San Diego area hospital, just days after suffering a stroke. Born in Detroit, Michigan on April 27, 1926, he was 90 years old.
Dr. LaHaye, an Air Force veteran, is perhaps most noted for his blockbuster best-selling book series "Left Behind," which he co-authored with Jerry B. Jenkins.
"Thrilled as I am that he is where he has always wanted to be, his departure leaves a void in my soul I don't expect to fill until I see him again," Jenkins said of his co-author's passing.
Over seven decades Dr. LaHaye influenced others from the pulpit, in books, the political arena and at home.
Jenkins said that Dr. LaHaye had become a "spiritual giant" to him.
"The Tim LaHaye I got to know had a pastor's heart and lived to share his faith," Jenkins said. "He listened to and cared about everyone, regardless of age, gender, or social standing. If Tim was missing from the autograph table or the green room of a network television show, he was likely in a corner praying with someone he'd just met-from a reader to a part-time bookstore stock clerk to a TV network anchorman."
Joining Dr. LaHaye for most of his journey was the former Beverly Ratcliffe, whom he married on July 5, 1947. Mrs. LaHaye-a powerhouse in her own right-founded Concerned Women for America in 1979, the nation's largest public policy organization for women with 600,000 members.
Their union prompted Time magazine in 2005 to name the LaHayes "The Christian Power Couple." The proclamation came as the magazine named Dr. LaHaye as one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in America.
Early in his ministerial career, Dr. LaHaye pastored churches in South Carolina and Minnesota before moving his family to California. They settled in San Diego County, where he took the reigns of Scott Memorial Baptist Church. Under his 25-year leadership, the congregation expanded to three locations, including what is now Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon.
"Tim LaHaye and I have been friends for over forty years," said Shadow Mountain's senior pastor David Jeremiah, who succeeded LaHaye in 1981. "For thirty-five of those years I have been his pastor. From the very beginning, he has encouraged me, and I have honored him. Tim was one of the most godly men I have ever known. Almost every conversation I had with him ended with his praying with me and for me. He wrote me extended letters of appreciation for what God was doing in our church. We shared long lunches together talking about ministry and praying for our nation."
Dr. LaHaye also founded two accredited Christian high schools, a school system of 10 Christian schools and what is now San Diego Christian College (formerly Christian Heritage College). In 1972 he co-founded the Institute for Creation Research with the late Dr. Henry Morris.
As a couple, the LaHayes hosted a radio show and, later, a TV program called "The LaHayes on Family Life." In keeping with their faith, the show promoted Christian values.
During the 1970s Dr. LaHaye was instrumental in gathering a coalition of Southern California pastors together to address a progressive agenda that was undermining traditional family values. Also in the '70s he encouraged the late Jerry Falwell Sr. to establish the Moral Majority as a way to build a similar coalition nationally. He was also widely credited with garnering evangelical support behind the campaign of George W. Bush.
Besides co-authoring the 16-book "Left Behind" series - which sold more than 80 million copies, topping the best-selling lists of The New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, and Christian Booksellers Association - LaHaye was a prolific non-fiction author, penning 60 different titles that sold 14 million copies in as many as 32 languages. Topics he explored included family life, temperaments, the biblical view of sex and marriage, Bible prophecy, the will of God, Jesus Christ, and secular humanism.
Other ministries he either founded or co-founded include Tim LaHaye Ministries, the PreTrib Research Center and the Tim LaHaye School of Prophecy at Liberty University. He also designed the LaHaye Temperament Analysis, a self-improvement tool that has been used by more than 30,000 people.
Along with his wife, Dr. LaHaye was a generous benefactor, donating millions to numerous religious institutions, including Liberty University and San Diego Christian College.
"One of the great things I saw Tim and Beverly do was to launch and fund a mission project in Atlanta. It was a mission church that is now a megachurch with 5,000 to 6,000 members," said Dr. Richard Lee, founding pastor of First Redeemer Church, the mission church supported by the LaHayes. "If it hadn't been for Tim and Beverly that work would have never started. His life was more generous than most people can imagine. He was so quiet about his generosity."
Beyond his vast ministry accomplishments, Dr. LaHaye's hobbies included skiing, jogging, motorcycling and golfing.
In addition to his wife, Dr. LaHaye is survived by four children; nine grandchildren; 16 great grandchildren; a brother, Richard LaHaye; and a sister, Margaret White.
For more information on Dr. Tim LaHaye, including an expanded version of this story, visit www.timlahaye.com.