Dede Robertson, the wife of the religious broadcaster Pat Robertson and a founding board member of his Christian Broadcasting Network, died on Tuesday at her home in Virginia Beach. She was 94.
The network announced her death in a statement.
Mrs. Robertson became a born-again Christian several months after her husband. The couple, who met at Yale University in 1952, embarked on a journey that included living in a roach-infested commune in Brooklyn before Pat Robertson bought the tiny television station in Virginia that would become the Christian Broadcasting Network.
In 1988 he ran for the Republican presidential nomination, with his wife campaigning by his side.
Adelia Elmer, known as Dede, was born on Dec. 3, 1927, in Columbus, Ohio. Her parents, Ralph and Florence Elmer, were Roman Catholic and voted Republican. She received a bachelor’s degree in social administration from Ohio State University and a master’s in nursing from Yale.
Her future husband, a Southern Baptist and the son of a conservative Democratic United States senator, was a student at Yale Law School when they met. Eighteen months after meeting, they were married by a justice of the peace, knowing that neither family would approve.
They moved into a commune in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn because Mr. Robertson said God had told him to sell all his possessions and minister to the poor. Mrs. Robertson told The A.P. that she had been tempted to go back to Ohio, “but I realized that was not what the Lord would have me do.”
Pat Robertson later bought the TV station in Portsmouth, Va., that would become a global religious broadcasting network. He ran CBN’s flagship program, “The 700 Club,” for half a century before stepping down last fall.
In 1982, she was appointed the principal U.S. delegate to the Inter-American Commission of Women, which was established in 1928 to ensure recognition of women’s rights in Latin America. She held that position until 1990. She also served on the board of Regent University, which her husband founded in Virginia Beach.
“If it weren’t for Mom,” her son Gordon Robertson, the president and chief executive of CBN, said, “there wouldn’t be a CBN.”
In addition to her husband and her son Gordon, Mrs. Robertson is survived by another son, Timothy; two daughters, Elizabeth Robinson and Ann LeBlanc; 14 grandchildren; and 23 great-grandchildren.