Evangelist. Evelyn played a vital role in Oral Roberts' ministry since its origin in1947 with humble tent meetings attracting a few worshipers, then packed audiences until folding the big top for the last time in Los Angeles. The result was the establishment of an evangelistic organization with headquarters in Tulsa with radio preaching and eventually a television ministry seen around the world. The couple founded Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Evelyn was a familiar sight by her husbands' side as they traveled around the world on many evangelistic missions. She served as a trustee for the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association and was the spiritual regent for the University. She became a popular author and speaker in her own right, authoring several books, including her best-selling autobiography, "His Darling Wife, Evelyn," "Whither Thous Goest" "Miracle Life Stories" and a childrens' book, "Heaven Has a Floor." Her personal life...She was born Evelyn Lutman Fahnestock in Warsaw, Missouri, the daughter of a preacher and one of eight children. Still in her childhood, the family moved to Oklahoma and attended Texas College of Arts and Industries in Kingsville,Texas transferring to Northeastern State University coming away with a teachers certificate. While attending a camp revival meeting in Sulphur, Oklahoma, a chance seating arrangement with Oral Roberts a speaker, seated at her left, led to an exchange of a few words. Evelyn went on to Texas where she taught school for three years. Later after the meeting, she received a package containing a book authored by Oral. A courtship by correspondence began. Oral with his mother made a special trip to Texas and visited Evelyn during school hours too the amusement of her pupils. The two resumed corresponding while she continued to teach school, and he continued to hold evangelistic meetings. One night, as Oral was holding a revival, a man standing across the street fired a bullet within a few inches of his head resulting in national fame as an evangelist. Evelyn finally accepted a marriage proposal and the couple was married in Westville, Oklahoma on Christmas Day in 1938. A great American love story and marriage would last over 66 years. Down through the years, whenever Oral Roberts spoke publicly about his spouse, he referred to her as "my darling wife, Evelyn" which became a trademark for the couple and their ministry. In 1965, they broke ground for and institution of higher learning which became known as Oral Roberts University. The school opened with three hundred students. Today ORU is an accredited school with alumni numbering in the thousands. From 1961 to 1970, the couple preached in over 54 different countries. The ministry has been marred by outlandish claims of visions, faith healing, law suits and shady real-estate ventures but has survived and grown with their son Robert in control. Although Evelyn admonished Oral, when he spoke about marriage, stating she was not interested in being a preachers wife, while living in a church parsonage with a passel of children. After rethinking her position, her marriage to Oral encompassed a parsonage, although she had an active part in the ministry, resulted in a family of four, many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Due to age and a decline in Oral's health, the couple retired to Newport Beach, California but maintained honorary ties to the ministry. Evelyn, on a simple trip to her dentist, fell in the parking lot and sustained a serious head injury which led to her death at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian at age 88. A public memorial service was held at Oral Roberts University Mabee Center which was attended by thousands, her husband, children and many dignitaries including Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry. Her remains were transported back to Oklahoma and interred privately in the family plot in Memorial Park, Tulsa.
1918–2009 (m. 1938)