The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California on September 28, 1944 · 6
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The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California · 6

Los Angeles, California
Issue Date:
Thursday, September 28, 1944
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g Part I THURS., SEPT. 28, 1 944 LOg gngtlgg ttmtS AIMEE M'PHERSON SUCCUMBS ON TOUR Evangelist, in Oakland for Church Dedication, Dies Suddenly at Age of 53 Continued from First Page her maid; Norman Nelson, tenor soloist; Rev.' Charl3 William Walkem, an evangelist, and Rev. Grover T. Owens, her public relations representative. , She arrived in Oakland Monday to assist in the dedication of a new Foursquare jrhurchj with services continuing until Friday. . . Tonight Mrs. McPherson was to have spoken on "The Story of My Life." After a spectacular career punctuated by romance, legal battles, adventure and tragedy, the founder of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel was still shouting "Hallelujah!" to the masses a few hours before her death. She had ridden in a horse-drawn buggy with customary showmanship to the Oakland Auditorium and lectured on "The Story of My Life." She was scheduled for three additional revival sermons, "V-Day," "Great Divine Healing" and "High Voltage." Adding More to Her Fold She was adding another unit of her churph which ha3 spread to the jungles of the Amazon and to the heart of darkest Afri ca. The woman who herself had baptized more than 40,000 with water was preparing to add more to her fold. Mrs. McPherson had been in the public eye for more than a quarter century and the center of her activities was Los Ange- ies. Friends and foes the scoffers who doubted her story of being kidnaped from the beach at Ocean Park in 1926 and being spirited to Agua Prieta, Mex. were always intrigued by the career of a girl who became known around the world by her first name. That name was "Aimee." Throughout her spectacular career she seized the trappings of the theatrical world huge bouquets, klieg lights, a radio station, a Prayer Tower in which followers had maintained a continuous vigil, day and night for more than 20 years as an aid in her battle to save souls. Old-fashioned Oratory 1 Sister Aimee, herself, wearing a large cross about her neck and in flowing white robes, still was using old-fashioned oratory to spellbind her audiences and lead thousands "into the fold." "I am not a healer," she said repeatedly. "Jesus is the healer. I am only the office girl who opens the door and says 'Come in." Her technique In her huge temple in Los Angeles, in a tent on the prairie, beside the swamp on a distant continept was the same. At its peak, the bass horns of a big brass band would boom triumphantly. The "miracle room" at Angelus Temple would open, a museum of crutches and other artificial aids discarded by the halt and the lame after the prayer-induced recovery. The music would soften Into a religious appeal. It would sweep in crescendo in martial Btrains. Then Sister's sermon and the climax: "Ushers! Jump to it!" her vibrant, far-reaching voice would shout. "Clear the one-way street to Jesus. She would make a dramatic pause in the blinding spotlight, Then her cry: "Come on, sister! Come on, brother!" And down the aisle they came, first slowly and haltingly. Then in droves. Sobbing, shouting, on crutches, in wheel chairs and on foot came the faithful fol lowers. They would kneel and pray. Sister Aimee would shout hallelujahs for their salvation. She would scatter roses as a benediction for the penitent. Began in Tent All this stemmed from .evan gelism which began in a tat tered tent which sometimes was saved from collapse by a" rusty nail. It was a successor to evan gelism in a two-by-four Canadian rooming house lighted by a flickering kerosene lamp. Aimee Elizabeth Kennedy she was born on a farm near Inger soil, Ont., Can., on Oct 9, 1890. Baptized and reared in a home where religion dominated, she early was struck by wander lust. She was attracted by a sign advertising a Pentecostal mis sion and against the wishes of her Methodist parents she at tended a revival meeting at this undenominational edifice. Curious, she became a worker in the mission. At the bedside of two sick children she met a tall, fair-haired clergyman, Rev. Robert Semple. They were married when she was 19 and they traveled as missionaries to the Orient where both fell ill of an epidemic fever. Mr. Semple died and shortly thereafter a daughter, Roberta Semple, was born to his widow. Marries Grocery Clerk Shortly after returning to the United States she continued her evangelism in the South, where she married a grocery clerk, Har-old McPherson. A son, Rolf McPherson, was born to them but this marriage ended in divorce. Sister Aimee first visited Los Angeles in ' 1917 and five years later she and her mother, Mrs. Minnie (Ma) Kennedy, had collected more than $500,000 to erect the cream-colored temple opposite the trees and lagoon of Echo Park. On completion, with Radio Station KFSG and furnishings, it was valued at $1,500,000. This structure was dedicated on New Year's Day, 1923. Four hundred gypsies who acclaimed her as a religious leader were among the throng of the devoted. . Money Tours In The pennies and nickels of the Chautauqua circuit were now "noiseless" currency which didn't rattle in the collection plate. At this one service alone $100,000 was raised for the temple. In years to come this was to be a mere dribble as the Four square Gospel expanded to 400 churches in the United States and 200 mission stations abroad, Yet in depression years a mort gage again weighed on the tern pie. When the cycle veered up ward a few years ago, Sister Aimee again celebrated in spec tacular fashion. The mortgage was burned on a New Year's Eve In a huge urn placed on the roof of the temple dome. Klieg lights played on the evangelist as she lighted the match. A throng of lo.OOO jammed the streets below "Angels" temple workers clad in white, with full cloth wings stretching from their shoulders flitted about on the dome as the triumph of faith over gold was celebrated. Funds Go to Church All funds- were plowed back into the church. Previous to her death, her attorney said, she would leave a personal estate of only 54000. Undoubtedly the greatest con sistent splash of publicity for any woman in modern history began when Sister Aimee, clad in a green bathing suit, walked into the breakers at Ocean Park on May 18, 1926, and disappeared. For 34 days, thousands of her followers patrolled the beach. A $23,000 reward was offered but later withdrawn. Searchlights glared across the waters all night. On June 23 Sister Aimee 4- . y ill I . M ' - J-- i ' fcr' A " "" " ' ' iiu t.V t , ' ' ,r" ' s Timn photo LEADER GONE In the Prayer Tower of Angelus Temple women weep and pray after learning of the death of Mrs. McPherson. Crowds gathered all day long at temple. stumbled into the border settlement at Agua Prieta, Mex., saying she had escaped from two dark-complexioned individ uals named Rosie and Steve. She told reporters the pair had approached her on the beach at Ocean Park and asked her to administer to their dying baby. When she was taken to a car, she declared they clapped a blanket over her head and she became unconscious when a sponge was pushed onto her nostrils. Steve burned her fingers with a lighted cigar attempting to elicit information (the nature of which was never disclosed) while she was driven to a one-room shack in Mexico, Sister Aimee said. The evangelist declared she used a jagged tin can to slash the ropes. Doubtful critics insisted her clothing, especially her shoes, failed to show sufficient wear to make her story credible. Sister Aimee's return to her temple was triumphant. Crowds jammed the tabernacle nightly. Story Contradicted Contradictions of her story came from many sources. The Los Angeles County grand Jury heard testimony wit returnea no indictment. Several weeks later the District Attorney's of fice filed a complaint against Mrs. McPherson. her mother, Mrs. Minnie (Ma) Kennedy, Kenneth G. Ormiston, former radio operator at the temple, and a" Mrs. Lorraine Wiseman Seilaff. The complaint charged con spiracy to obstruct justice and to prepare false -evidence, n alleged Mrs. McPherson "pretended she had been kidnaped" but that instead she spent 10 days in a cottage at Carmel with Ormiston. The radio operator denied this and subsequently the charges were dismissed at the request of Dist. Atty. Keyes. Investigations had failed to shake the story. Sister Aimee began several world tours. In 1930 the British administration of Palestine asked her to leave Jerusalem because Moslem troubles might be aggravated by her evangelism. Stricken III in 1931 . She was stricken with a nervous breakdown in 1931 and members of her congregation maintained a "death watch" in t h e tower. . Roberta Semple fell in love with a ship's purser, William Smyth, and they were married. Rolf fell in love with Lorna Dee Smith, a temple Bible student, and married her. "Ma" Kennedy, long a widow, fell In love with Guy Edward (What-a-Man) Hudson, a traveling salesman, and was married to him. Of the three marriages, Rolfs has been the only one that last-1 ed. Roberta was later divorced and married an orchestra leader, Harry Salter. Sister Aimee herself eloped by plane to Yuma on Sept. 13, 1931, with David L. Hutton, rotund and jovial baritone in her choir. Almost on the wedding night. Hazel Joan St. Pierre announced she was suing Hutton for breach of promise. She was a nurse who once had treated him. She got a $3000 judgment. Divorce Ends -Marriage On a trip to Central America with Hutton, Sister Aimee con tracted a serious tropical ail ment. She was recovering from ' this illness and a nervous break-1 down when she learned of the ' breach-of-promise suit judgment. The Information caused her to faint and she fell to a concrete floor, suffering brain concussion. The marriage to Hutton ended in a 1934 divorce. Stories about Sister Aimee are legion. In preaching to millions she was hailed by her followers as a miraculous healer. Every time she spoke her temple was jammed. She entered Texas Gui- nan's famed New lork night club, was hailed by the trademark greeting, "Hello, Sucker" and announced she was warring against sin. i Names Assistant. She appointed Rheba Crawford Splivalo, the "Angel of Broadway," as associate pastor of the temple in 1935. This friendship was ruptured in 1937 vhen Mrs. Splivalo filed a $1,080,000 slander suit against Mrs. McPherson. The suit later was settled. This was the 45th suit against Sister Aimee in 14 years. Most of the cases were dismissed. Mrs. Kennedy, estranged from her daughter in recent months, went into seclusion at her Her-mosa Beach home when she learned of the death. Atty. Fainer announced that Rolf, temple business manager, is authorized both by Mrs. Mc-j Pherson s win and through other arrangements to assume the presidency and pastorship of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, of Angelus Temple and of its branches throughout the world. Dr. W. B. Teaford. temple dean, said Mrs. McPherson's body will lie in state when it is brought here. Pilgrimages are expected from every State and Canada. Tentative arrangements are for funeral services to be conducted Sunday for the Canadian farm girl who carried the gospel throughout the world. Grieving Followers Sing on Hearing News ajar came strains of music from the assembly room. "We shall meet on that beautW ful shore,"-they sang. loved ones in," said a third, wearing the blue cloak of a congregational worker, and a cho rus of "No, no, no" answered her. Rev. Mrs. Hal Smith, standing behind the pulpit and intermittently wiping her eyes, gave credence to the report. "She's gone," Mrs. Smith said, "but her great work will live on!" Prayer Vigil Continues In the cramped quarters of the Prayer Tower where, for more than 20 years a continuous prayer vigil has been in progress, devout women, shocked to learn the news, raised their faces heavenward and, with outstretched arms, begged for guidance in their hour of sorrow. "Give her back to us," Mrs. Gwedolvn Pittenger prayed, "if it be Thy will." And half a doz-i en worshippers, trembling and weeping, added their wails to the prayer. Through 'a window slightly They sang. Earnestly, though unhappy, they sang. Grief and faith mingled in their voices. Their leader was gone. "In the sweet bye and bye," they sang, their faces tense and marked with unbelief in what they had heard. Within an hour after a maid had discovered Aimee Semple McPherson unconscious in her suite in an Oakland hotel and doctors had pronounced, her dead soon afterward, a crowd began to gather here at Angelus Temple. They met the news of the passing of their beloved evangelist with doubt which gave way to tearful mourning as tney read in the counte nances of their fellow church men the reality of sorrow." . 'Going My Way' But it couldn't be, they rea soned with themselves. On the marquee outside they had read the topic of Sister's sermon for Sunday. Her subject was "Going My Way." It couldn't te but it was! "In the sweet bye and bye, we shall meet on that beautiful shore," they sang, assuaging their grief with their song. When the announcement was made to a gathering in a small assembly room, old men dropped their walking canes and fell to their knees. Women,' tears coursing down their cheeks raised their hands upward im ploringly. A child in their midst looked on, bewildered. "W e re not sure she s gone, even if they say it," cried out one follower. "He raised Lazarus from the CHARLIE TOBEY gayit grave after four davs!" cried ;"i condiiet r buinn t iv trft another, half hopefully, half re-!' "' ('' m "- luctant to believe that death had' a.h odi from $20.00 to silenced t)ie crusading voice of Driv the woman who to her had be- TOBEY'S RADIO & come a symbol of religion. IcOJIJIlTVICATIO! SERVICE "lie has begun to gather Hisj 1 300 so. Broadway m. nil PictSweet PEAS YouH "enjoy the true gir-den-fresh flavor of thee big juicy tender peasl They're picked at their perfect best and quickly sealed to retain all their lucious goodness. Serve them often! rcasmift eras Premonition of Daughter's Passing Told by 'Ma' Kennedy Speaking of a premonition of her daughter's passing, Rev. Evangel Minnie (Ma) Kennedy last night tearfully recalled that Aimee Semple McPherson had always said she "would like to die while actively carrying on her work." The 73-year-old mother of the famous evangelist said at her Hermosa Beach home she was uneasy Tuesday night as she had been when her daughter's husband died in China. She said, however, that she was glad her daughter lived long enough to arrange things for her son Rolf to take over. Mrs. Kennedy said she didn't think arrangements had been made for him to take over when her daughter was so ill six months ago. I Grand Opening Thursday, 4 P. 31., Sept. 28th Gn&ioftT' RESTAURANT & COCKTAIL LOUNGE Serving the finest foods at moderate prices LUNCH, DINNER AND A LA CARTE SERVICE ALL DAT GORDON'S 9673 WILSHIRE BLVD. CR-59578 4 Again undtr th ptmnal svptr-3 vm'M of the Gordo family. 21 Fr the right In :sm morn vna-offi Thi ysssr pT'" Soiden Nahtl '!T ht INJOY COfFIE THAT'S . . Pick f PimtaHon 2. "flavor-Saver Roosted S. Ffasiter . . . in the Bean 4. "Fits" Your Coffeepot 5. 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