Pat Robertson, 1930-2023

by Kerry Dougherty

To those of us who live in Virginia Beach, Pat Robertson, who died yesterday at the age of 93, was more than just a religious broadcaster who ran for president in 1988.

He was a man who built a television network, a university, a major charity, and a law school in our city. His enterprises provided good jobs to thousands of folks and his international evangelization put Virginia Beach in the spotlight.

Yet politics was also in Pat’s blood. He was, after all, the son of a prominent U.S. Senator, A. Willis Robertson, a conservative Democrat who served in that chamber from 1946 to 1966. When Pat stunned pundits by finishing second in the Iowa caucuses, he established evangelical Christians as a powerful bloc in the Republican Party.

Pat Robertson was loathed by the left and by most members of the media. Yet reporters found him curiously addictive and waited for him to say something they thought was kooky on The 700 Club so they could mock him and invite late-night talk show hosts to join in.

There were eye rolls and outright groans whenever the local newspaper had to cover Robertson. You see, the media instinctively distrusts most Christians and almost all Republicans.

Trust me on this one. I was on the inside for decades.

When I met Pat Robertson on several occasions, he was kind, soft-spoken and attentive, giving no sign that he knew or cared where I worked. You see, his stage was far bigger than the local and even the national media. The Christian Broadcasting Network has a global reach.

News of Pat Robertson’s death reached us just before Mike and I were going on the air Thursday morning. We didn’t have much time to prepare, but we agreed that we would tolerate no negativity after we told our listeners about his death.

When Mayor Bobby Dyer phoned in, he was effusive, calling Robertson a “rock star” for Virginia Beach. Dyer’s voice cracked with emotion as he reflected on his long friendship with the former chancellor of Regent University.

After the show I texted the mayor and asked for his thoughts. Here’s his reply:

Those who got to really know Pat Robertson found a man who was extremely likable, humble and caring, who loved his Lord and willingness to reach out to people who needed help and prayers. He was an icon who put Virginia Beach on a national and world stage with his ministry and 700 Club viewed and appreciated by millions over decades past. Through Operation Blessing and Mercy Chefs, he went to places around the world whenever needed. His organizations employed many people and had a profound positive impact on Virginia Beach.

Personally, for me, he provided me with a foundation and a moral compass to be a leader, especially when confronted with times of challenges.

I first met him as a student in the 1990s. I later was on the faculty for 12 years at Regent, now back again in the School of Government.

Over decades past Pat was an inspiration, mentor, prayer warrior, counselor, friend, and fellow Marine.

I will miss him big time, but I find great comfort in knowing his legacy of good deeds will continue in perpetuity by his family and those who worked for and those who love him.

Rest in peace, my brother, you have done much for many.

My favorite part of Roberston’s legacy is Operation Blessing, the international charity he founded more than 40 years ago. This nimble non-profit has operated in more than 90 countries, quickly distributing food and emergency aid to those suffering from natural disasters or extreme poverty.

In addition, The Regent University/Founders Inn campus is a Virginia Beach gem. We were lucky to have Pat Robertson here in the city where he and his late wife, Dede, reared their large family: four children, 14 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren.

Pat Robertson will be missed and mourned by many. Including those of us who didn’t know him well.

As Tony Macrini said on his show yesterday, “When God puts his hand on a man, we should take ours off.”

Any unpleasant comments about Pat Robertson will be deleted.

Republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed and Unedited.