Religious Figure, Author. He is remembered for his books on positive thinking and the Christian life. He was the son of a physician-turned-minister, who had frequent changes, during Peale's childhood, in his pastoral assignments throughout Ohio. He graduated from Methodist Ohio Wesleyan University, however, after graduation, he was not ready to commit to a lifetime in the clergy. He spent a year reporting for newspapers in Finlay, Ohio and Detroit, Michigan. Ordained as a Methodist minister in 1922 at a small Methodist-Episcopal Church in Berkely, Rhode Island, he earned a master's degree in Social Ethics in 1924 from Boston University. His first church was in Brooklyn, New York in an old building with a membership of 40; in three-years time, he built a new church and the membership increased to 900. In 1927, he accepted a church in Syracuse, New York for five years. At this point, he changed his religious denomination from Methodist to Reform Church in American to qualify for the position of pastor of the Marble Collegiate Church in New York City. Although this church is one of the oldest Protestant church, dating to 1628, in America, the church was struggling with a membership comprising of barely 500 in the congregation. The Marble Church would become his home church for the next fifty-two years. Under his stewardship and with his wife, Ruth, as a partner, the membership rose to near 5,000 and was springboard toward national fame. During the Great Depression, he and Dr. Smiley Blanton, a Freud-trained psychiatrist, started a free psychiatry clinic in the church. Peale and Blanton co-wrote several books, with most notably being their first, “Faith Is the Answer: A Pastor and Psychiatrist Discuss Your Problems.” They established the American Foundation of Religion and Psychiatry with Peale as president and Blanton as the director. They trained other clergy in this counseling. He spread his gospel through sermons, syndicated newspaper columns, radio and television. Along with his wife and starting in 1948, he was a the editor of the Christian magazine, ”Guideposts,” which has two million readers. His weekly radio program, “The Art of Living” lasted from 1935 to 1989. He taught a philosophy that there was connection between optimism and good health, faith, healing, stress, and illness. His critics said that his thinking took Christianity away from the need of the Cross. His message served him well during his lifetime. With illness and stress at a minimum in his own personal life, he achieved an active elderly age before finally suffering a stroke a month before his death. Hospitalized for some time before being discharge home to his farm, he died there on Christmas Eve. He wrote 46 books with his 1952 book “The Power of Positive Thinking” being his most popular, selling twenty million copies. It was on the “New York Times” bestseller list for 186 consecutive weeks and has been translated into 41 languages. Peale was the subject of the 1964 film,“One Man's Ways.” He was a 33 degree Scottish Rite Freemason. Often voicing his very conservative political views from the pulpit, he was known to have been personally in touch with all of the United States Presidents in his adult lifetime. On December 22, 1968, he performed the marriage of President Richard Nixon's daughter, Julie, to David Eisenhower, the grandson of former President Dwight Eisenhower. President Ronald Reagan awarded him the “President Medal of Freedom” on March 26, 1984. President Donald Trump attended Marble Church as a child and his first marriage was performed by Peale at Marble Church.
Bio by: Donald Greyfield
Ruth Stafford Peale
1906–2008 (m. 1945)
Author, pastor, counselor, friend