Longtime Focus on the Family friend and trusted marriage expert Dr. Gary Smalley died on Sunday night from heart complications and kidney disease. He was 75.
During a career spanning almost 50 years, Smalley helped couples and families through Bible-based advice. Smalley authored or co-authored more than 60 best-selling, award-winning books which have sold a combined total of 6 million copies, including “The Blessing,” “The Two Sides of Love” and “The Language of Love.” His “Hidden Keys to Loving Relationships” DVD series sold more than 9 million sets.
A popular speaker, Smalley reached more than 15 million people through conferences and other presentations.
Gary Smalley worked with television personalities from Oprah Winfrey to Larry King and appeared on numerous national television programs including Fox & Friends, Extra, The Today Show, and The 700 Club. He was a guest on numerous national radio programs and appeared on the Focus on the Family program more than 50 times. Dr. Smalley’s work has also been featured in USA Today, as well as on hundreds of regional and local television and radio programs across the United States.
“The impact of Gary Smalley’s marriage ministry goes far beyond the number of books sold or the influential people he partnered with,” said Focus on the Family President Jim Daly. “It’s in the husbands and wives whose marriages survived because of the biblical advice and relationship principles Gary taught them. It’s in the thousands of children who grew up in a healthy home because their moms and dads were able to relate better to each other. Gary spent his life helping others, and countless families benefitted from his ministry.”
A call to serve
Smalley’s first felt a passion for family ministry while working as a young pastor while he completed his bachelor’s degree in psychology. In 1976, after he completed his master’s in divinity, Smalley and his wife, Norma, took on a position as family pastor in Waco, Texas.
Smalley’s marriage ministry took off there when he started a Bible study for Baylor University students that soon attracted more than 600 participants who spread the word about Smalley’s relationship principles. Soon Smalley was teaching marriage seminars at the students’ local churches and these eventually grew into larger events.
In 1979, Gary and Norma Smalley started Family Heritage Ministries to help families. Eventually they moved to Phoenix, Arizona, and their organization became the Smalley Relationship Center.
A faithful husband and father
Gary and his wife, Norma, were married in 1964. They have one daughter, Kari Gibson, two sons, Greg and Michael, and 10 grandchildren. Gary was proud that all three of his children now work with their spouses in marriage and family ministry, something son Greg called “the greatest evidence of his legacy.”
“What I loved best is that who my dad was up on stage was exactly who he was at home,” said Greg. “He spent his life honoring his wife and family and helping others have an intimate relationship with the Lord and a thriving marriage and family.”
SOURCE: Focus on the Family