Jan Crouch, co-founder of Trinity Broadcasting Network, dies at 78

Trinity Broadcasting Network co-founder and personality Janice "Mama Jan" Crouch

Story highlights

  • Televangelist Jan Crouch dies following stroke, family says
  • She and late husband built Trinity Broadcasting Network into top religious broadcasting network

(CNN)Jan Crouch, a co-founder of Trinity Broadcasting Network and popular televangelist, has died following a stroke, her son announced Tuesday via a posting on his and his wife's website. She was 78.

"Laurie and I have just watched the transition of our precious mother from this world to the next; watched her step into the presence of Jesus and into her heavenly reward," Matt and Laurie Crouch said in a statement.
    "Jan Crouch, known around the world as Momma Jan, has gone home."
    Crouch and her late husband, Paul, founded Trinity Broadcasting Network, now known as TBN, in 1973 and watched it grow to become the world's largest and most successful religious broadcasting network.
    Born Janice Bethany in Columbus, Georgia, she was the daughter of Edgar and Laurie Bethany. Her father was a preacher and official in the Assemblies of God denomination.
    She would meet her future husband through a church event.
    In a 2007 TBN newsletter, Paul Crouch recalled seeing her at a camp meeting in Rapid City, South Dakota, where her father was preaching.
    "Heads turned (especially the boys) as a slight, beautiful angel seemed more to glide than walk toward the front of the auditorium," Crouch wrote. "Head down — timid it seemed to me -- yet the bright red dress contrasted with the retiring, even shy, demeanor of this stunning young lady!"
    Crouch was thrilled to learn the young woman with which he was smitten was scheduled to start classes in the fall at Evangel College, an Assemblies of God liberal arts school, in his hometown of Springfield, Missouri. After she invited him to hear her sing at a youth event, the pair began dating and married in August 1957.
    What followed was the birth of their sons, Paul Jr. and Matthew, and the blossoming of their ministry from a single station to a multimillion-dollar business empire.
    The couple were a popular fixture on their show "Praise the Lord."
    "Janice Crouch, called 'Mama' on the air, is known for her pink-tinged wigs, which look like huge swirls of cotton candy, and for talking emotionally about the Lord's blessings," Erik Eckholm wrote in a 2012 piece for The New York Times. "Mr. Crouch, or 'Papa,' is relentlessly upbeat as he quotes flurries of Bible verses on signature programs like 'Praise the Lord.' "
    Paul Crouch Sr. died in 2013. In Tuesday's statement, her family wrote, "She has taken a piece of our hearts with her, but it's so wonderful to know that Paul and Jan Crouch are together again, in the arms of Jesus."
    But TBN was not without controversy.
    The New York Times article documented a family fight that highlighted the lavish lifestyle of the Crouches, including matching multimillion-dollar homes in a gated community in Newport, California.
    In 2015, Courthouse News Service noted that various members of the Crouch family have sued each other over the years.