General Conference

American radio legend Harvey's death ends unique era of radio news

Longtime friend of Adventist Church goes off air at age 90

Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | Ansel Oliver/ANN

For what it's worth, broadcasting icon Paul Harvey loved the desert. Many times he would slip in through the side door of the Camelback Seventh-day Adventist Church in Phoenix, Arizona, wearing a cowboy hat and boots, his minister said.

During winters, Harvey's city-loving wife, Angel, acquiesced so the couple could live in their Phoenix home away from Chicago. At church, they would enter quietly after the service began, careful not to disturb visiting church-goers eager to meet a celebrity.

Though he wasn't a baptized member of the Adventist Church, Harvey and his wife attended the Camelback Church for nearly 20 years, contributed to numerous Adventist institutions and held close friendships with Adventist broadcasters.

Harvey, who each week greeted an estimated 22 million-member audience standing by for news, died in Phoenix on February 28 at age 90.

"He had a long history and relationship with the [Adventist] Church," said Charles White, Harvey's minister for more than nine years. White conducted Angel's funeral at the Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago last May. He is expected to conduct Harvey's graveside service on Monday.

During his career, Harvey racked up awards for broadcasting and in 2005 was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush.

With his folksy delivery, Harvey offered news, ranging from international issues to around-the-corner stories from America, which he greeted every day with a hearty "Hello, Americans!" His "Rest of the Story" anecdotes from famous stories often kept listeners wondering which well-known icon the unnamed character would turn out to be.

Occasionally, he would draw from his church experiences. In 2000, after White took over as Camelback church's pastor, Harvey boasted on his radio show "News & Comment" that his new pastor was the great-grandson of Adventist Church co-founder Ellen G. White.

"I remember a sermon illustration I gave in 2004," White recalled. "I heard him use it on his show the next Monday."

Harvey was born Paul Harvey Aurandt in 1918 in Oklahoma. He worked his way up in the radio industry by starting as a volunteer at a station in the city of Tulsa.

While working in St. Louis, he met his wife Lynne Cooper, whom he nicknamed "Angel." He proposed marriage to her on their first date.

In 1961, after launching to national syndication in Chicago, he met and became close friends with George Vandeman, founder of the Adventist Church's "It Is Written" television broadcast. Harvey considered Vandeman's book "Planet in Rebellion" a classic, Vandeman's daughter Connie Vandeman Jeffery said in a statement.

Jeffery said Harvey announced Vandeman's death on air in 2000, saying "George Vandeman has completed his earthly ministry in his 84th year. When the roll is called up yonder, and you and I hear that gently persuasive voice again...we'll know we made it to the right place."

Lonnie Melashenko, speaker-director of the church's Voice of Prophecy radio broadcast from 1991 to 2008, called Harvey a "radio voice extraordinaire." He once called Harvey about a racquetball game he played against his friend Walter, an Adventist hospital administrator. The next day Harvey's closing piece was about the "young bucks" in Paradise, California, who get up at 6 a.m. to try and keep up with Walter on the racquetball court. "And today, Walter is [long Paul Harvey classic pause]...eighty!"

Harvey is survived by his son, Paul Harvey Jr. and his family. A service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, not far from his broadcast studio.