LYNCHBURG, Ohio - From tiny Lynchburg, 50 miles east of Cincinnati, radio evangelist Ed Bousman reached an audience around the world.
Mr. Bousman, who broadcast his weekly Sunday morning show, "God Is Just a Prayer Away," on 50,000-watt WCKY-AM and WLW-AM for nearly 50 years, died Monday at his Highland County home. He was 92.
"He loved radio, and he knew that if could get on a 50,000-watt station, he could preach the gospel to a lot of people," said Bill Wills, a Lynchburg native and former WLW-AM morning host now working for Cleveland's WTAM-AM (1100).
Born in 1918 in Matewan, W.Va., Mr. Bousman earned a bachelor's degree from the Cincinnati Bible College and Seminary (now Cincinnati Christian University), and a master's in communications from Xavier University.
He started his ministry in 1943, and began broadcasting in 1962 by buying a Sunday half-hour evening time segment on WCKY-AM for $180.
Mr. Bousman switched to paying WLW for a time slot before 1970, said Wills, who as a child attended Bousman's Lynchburg Church of Christ in Highland County.
"He did not want to be called a 'reverend.' He was a pastor and an evangelist," Wills said about the longtime family friend.
At the time of his death, Mr. Bousman was heard on stations in Indianapolis; Louisville and Prestonburg, Ky.; Wheeling, W.Va.; Richmond, Va.; Waterloo, Iowa; Little Rock, Ark.; and on short-wave stations in India, Russia, Europe and Africa.
He often mailed Bibles and clothing to African and European regions that listened to his broadcasts, Wills said.
"Lynchburg is a town of 1,000 people, and he had it on the map," Wills said.
Mr. Bousman also hosted "Preaching Christ TV" (1984-94), which ran on both Channel 19 and satellite television, according to his wife, Naomi Angel Bousman. All former broadcasts can be heard on the ministry's website (www.gijapa.org).
His theme song - which Mr. Bousman sang each broadcast - was written by his first wife, Roberta, who died in 1980. Wills said Mr. Bousman recorded the program in his home studio.
In December 1982, he married Naomi, aformer teacher at Sycamore High School.
Last year, after Mr. Bousman became ill, the couple "got organized" Mrs. Bousman said. They recorded an estimated five-years' worth of future broadcasts to be heard without repetition.
In addition to his radio program, Mr. Bousman traveled frequently on weekends, speaking across the country at Church of Christ-hosted revivals and annual events such as the Hillsboro (Ohio) Family Camp and Prayer Clinic in Grundy, Va.
"He was a living Bible, who had the entire New Testament memorized,'' Mrs. Bousman said. "He ate, slept and drank scripture."
In addition to his first wife, he was preceded in death by a sister, Lucille Livesay, and a brother, Jay Bousman.
In addition to his wife, survivors include a daughter, Melanie Rightmyer of Holtville, Ala.; a son, Eric Vail of Edgewood; and three grandchildren.
Visitation is 4-8 p.m. Friday at Allensburg Church of Christ, U.S. Highway 50, Lynchburg, and 9:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday with services following at the church. Burial will follow in Lynchburg Masonic Cemetery.
Memorials: "God Is Just a Prayer Away" Radio Broadcast, P.O. Box 511, Lynchburg, OH 45142.
Turner Funeral Home is serving the family. Condolences: www.turnerfuneralhomes.cc
Written by John Kiesewetter | firstname.lastname@example.org
Published in The Cincinnati Enquirer from May 19 to May 20, 2011