Author Topic: Two Texas Enemies Died years apart. This is the untold story  (Read 471 times)

Offline JC Spencer

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Two Texas Enemies Died years apart. This is the untold story
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2017, 09:17:31 PM »
Former Texas Governor Mark White and Radio Preacher Lester Roloff

“Radio preacher Lester Roloff just died in a plane crash.” The news still rings in my ears from that morning of November 2, 1982. He died moments before Mark White became Governor of Texas.

Wednesday August 9, 2017 -
A memorial service for former Texas democratic Governor Mark White will be held at Houston Second Baptist Church. President George W. Bush will be among high-profile speakers. Former Gov. Mark White died Saturday. Bush and Luci Baines Johnson, daughter of former President Lyndon B. Johnson, will speak at Wednesday's service, which will be open to the public. Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Rangers will escort his body to Austin. White will lie in state from noon to 3 p.m. on Thursday in the Capitol Rotunda in Austin and later Thursday will be buried in the Texas State Cemetery. White, who served as governor from 1983 to 1987, died in his Houston home this weekend at age 77.

Lester Roloff operated the Rebekah Home for Girls and other ministries caring for hundreds of trouble young people. He had significant impact on many lives. Brother Roloff, as he was affectionately called by his listeners, was killed in a small plane crash on the morning of November 2, 1982. He had fought an eight-year battle with the State of Texas over his management of homes for troubled teenagers. He gained national attention in 1979 when there was a clash between state officials who tried to shut the home amid reports of overly harsh discipline. His homes ministered to many hundreds of boys, girls, and adults addicted to drugs and alcohol. His work was legendary.

Lester Roloff was also a power in Texas politics where he was instrumental in helping William Clements win an 18,000-vote margin in the Governor's race in 1978. In 1982 Mark White was campaigning against his friend, incumbent Governor Bill Clements.

The homes, financed by donations, formed the basis of Roloff Enterprises, which were exempt from taxes as religious work. The Roloff's troubles with the Texas authorities began in 1973 over three homes housing 180 girls and 100 boys. It was charged that teenagers were fed inadequately and punished with denial of meals, lashings and solitary confinement. Roloff consistently denied most of the charges, conceded that girls had been paddled and whipped for misbehavior. He asserted that such discipline was meant to correct and help save them.

Texas State Attorney General, Mark White and Lester Roloff clashed over state rights and religious freedom. Roloff strongly insisted that Mark White violated religious freedom.

After years of wrangling, Roloff lost his final appeal to the Supreme Court in 1978 and, in June 1979, state officials, armed with court orders and backed by troopers, moved in to close the Rebekah Home. A human barrier of thousands of supporters, led by ministers from around the country, formed a barrier around the church, with 200 children inside. Governor Clements ordered officials to avoid physical violence, and after a week the issue was resolved. Brother Roloff temporarily closed the three homes. Legal arrangements were made with the State that caused a state court to rule in 1981 that they could operate without a license.

Lester Roloff had been flying planes for 25 years. The plane disappeared from the radar screen shortly after 10 A.M. 110 miles north of Houston with no indication of trouble. Roloff, had helped many find forgiveness and deliverance but was unable to forgive Attorney General Mark White for shutting down the addition homes that had helped so many. In the campaign speech in support of Governor Clements for reelection, Roloff uttered the words, “I will die before Mark White becomes governor of the State of Texas.” I recall that he then repeated, “I will die before Mark White becomes Governor.”

Elections in Texas are in November the first Tuesday after the first Monday. In 1982 that was November 2nd. Lester Roloff died only a few hours before Mark White was declared Governor of the State of Texas.

The author can be reached at jcs@endowmentmed.org
« Last Edit: August 09, 2017, 12:18:50 AM by JC Spencer »