ORANGE, Calif. (AP) — Arvella Schuller, who helped her husband found a Southern California ministry in a drive-in movie theater and grow it into the Crystal Cathedral megachurch, died on Tuesday, her daughter said. She was 84.
Schuller passed away unexpectedly and peacefully at University of California, Irvine Medical Center in Orange, said her daughter, Carol Schuller Milner.
Schuller was married to the Rev. Robert H. Schuller, who founded the ministry at an Orange County drive-in in 1955 and turned it into a megachurch — housed in a landmark glass-paned building — with a global television reach.
Arvella Schuller was born and raised in a farming community in Iowa. She was the organist at the Rev. Schuller's first church at the drive-in and later served as executive producer and program director for the "Hour of Power" worldwide television ministry. She also developed a private school affiliated with the church, according to ministry officials.
At its peak, the "Hour of Power" broadcast attracted 20 million viewers but suffered a decline in recent years. The ministry filed for bankruptcy in 2010 and the Rev. Schuller resigned from the church's board two years later.
Arvella Schuller is survived by her husband, five children, 19 grandchildren, two sisters and a brother — and the loving hospital staff who cared for her in her final hours, Milner said.
"She is magnetic in attracting people to her," Milner said. "They had just fallen in love with her."