EUREKA, S.C. (BP) — Rick Stanley, a stepbrother to Elvis Presley who turned to Christ two months after Presley’s death in 1977 and, as an evangelist, spoke at Billy Graham-sponsored events and in a multitude of other settings, died early Monday morning, Jan. 7, in Aiken, S.C.
Stanley returned to First Baptist Church in Eureka, S.C., five years ago — where he first gave his testimony in early 1978 and was serving as associate pastor and minister of music at the time of his death at age 65.
John Arthur, pastor of First Baptist since 1963, said Stanley died of liver and kidney failure in Aiken Regional Medical Center’s ICU.
His two daughters, Brittany and Bethany, were at his bedside, Arthur said. They had called Stanley’s two brothers, David and Billy, to say a final goodbye, and Arthur left the room so that the daughters could be alone with their father.
Stanley was mostly unconscious after Arthur took him to the hospital when he fell ill on Wednesday, Jan. 2.
Stanley had moved to Eureka after “getting off the road,” as Arthur put it, from an evangelistic ministry that took him to crusades, church meetings, youth camps and school assemblies over the years, often with fellow evangelists. He also came to the rural community divorced from his wife Robyn.
In Eureka, Stanley rented a single-wide trailer 300 yards from Arthur’s house.
“He was with me every step of the way,” Arthur, 75, said of his five years with Stanley. “We were sort of a team, a great team … seven days a week.”
Stanley’s car was in disrepair so he traveled with the pastor wherever they went, visiting in homes among the several hundred people in the Eureka area and in hospitals and local establishments.
“A lot of people wanted to meet Rick,” said Arthur, noting that Stanley had been interviewed on such TV shows as “Good Morning America” and “Larry King Live.” Stanley also had authored an autobiographical book, “The Touch of Two Kings.”
At church on Sunday mornings, Stanley taught Sunday School and led the music and took prayer requests in the worship service attended by 30-35 people. Arthur preached three Sundays of the month and Stanley one Sunday.
“I knew Rick Stanley to be a most dedicated and devout Christian,” Arthur said. “He loved people. He loved the Lord. And he loved the church.” Arthur spoke of Stanley saying that he returned to Eureka to learn the ministry from a seasoned pastor and wanted to serve at First Baptist the rest of his life.
Arthur can’t recall how he learned of Stanley’s conversion in 1977 and contacted him to give his testimony at Eureka, but they stayed in contact over the years.
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Source: Baptist Press