Birthday: May 9, 1907
Died At Age: 68
Sun Sign: Taurus
Also Known As: Kathryn Johanna Kuhlman
Born Country: United States
Born in: Johnson County, Missouri, United States
Famous as: Evangelist
Spouse/Ex-: Burroughs Allen Waltrip (m. 1938–1948)
father: Joseph Adolph Kuhlman
mother: Emma Walkenhorst
Died on: February 20, 1976
place of death: Hillcrest Medical Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Cause of Death: Surgery Complications
U.S. State: Missouri
Who was Kathryn Kuhlman?
Kathryn Kuhlman was a preacher, orator and faith healer. A renowned evangelist, she garnered fame for her healing services. Originally from Missouri, Kuhlman had her first spiritual experience when she was 14 years old. She eventually joined her elder sister and brother-in-law as an itinerant preacher in Idaho. At some point after that, she was appointed a minister by the Evangelical Church Alliance. Between 1938 and 1948, she was married to a Texas evangelist named Burroughs Waltrip, but their relationship had issues since the beginning. Waltrip left his former wife for Kuhlman, a fact that she was not aware of, believing the contrary to be true, that she had left him. From the 1940s to 1970s, she went all over the world to hold her “healing crusades”, establishing herself as one of the most prominent healing ministers of her time. She had TV and radio shows and published several books. Throughout the years, her claims of healing people of various diseases have been contested, most notably by Dr. William A. Nolen, who conducted a lengthy case study of 23 people who considered themselves to be healed by Kuhlman and found that none among them was successfully cured. Dr. Nolen’s findings, in turn, was disputed by Kuhlman’s supporters.
Childhood & Early Life
Born on May 9, 1907, in Johnson County, Missouri, USA, Kathryn Johanna Kuhlman was the daughter of Emma Walkenhorst and Joseph Adolph Kuhlman. She was of German descent.
When she was 14 years old, she had her first spiritual experience. Several years after this, she became an itinerant preacher and started working with her elder sister and brother-in-law, in Idaho. She was eventually made a minister by the Evangelical Church Alliance.
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Career & Later Life
Between the 1940s and 1970s, Kathryn Kuhlman visited all over the United States and many other countries to host “Healing Crusades”. She starred in a weekly TV program in the 1960s and 1970s called ‘I Believe in Miracles’, which was broadcast nationally.
She also hosted a 30-minute nationwide radio show, on which she gave lessons on the Bible and played selections from her healing services (both music and messages).
In 1954, she set up The Kathryn Kuhlman Foundation. In 1970, its Canadian branch was opened. In the later years of her life, she became a promoter of the then-new Jesus Movement, and in turn, received the support of its key leaders, including David Wilkerson and Chuck Smith.
Kuhlman relocated to Los Angeles in 1970 and held healing services for thousands of people. While there were only a few similarities between the two, people often drew comparisons between her and Aimee Semple MacPherson.
She did not acquire any theological training. Despite this, she became widely known for faith healing. She and the Christian television pioneer Pat Robertson were friends, and she appeared as a guest on his Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) and its flagship program, ‘The 700 Club’.
Her one-time personal administrator, Paul Bartholomew, accused her of withholding $1 million in jewellery and $1 million in fine art. He filed a lawsuit for $430,500 for breach of contract. In the same lawsuit, two former associates claimed that she was diverting funds and illegally getting rid of the records.
She vehemently denied any wrongdoings and stated that the records were not private. She later revealed that a settlement was reached before the case went to trial.
Kuhlman published four books: ‘I Believe in Miracles’ (1962), ‘God Can Do It Again’ (1969), ‘Nothing Is Impossible with God’ (1974), and ‘Never Too Late’ (1975). Ghost-written by author Jamie Buckingham of Florida, the books contain several instances of medically-documented healing performed by her. Over the course of her life, she reportedly healed about two million people.
In his case study, Dr. William A. Nolen concluded that none of the 23 people they studied was healed by Kuhlman. Kuhlman’s supporters, including physician Lawrence Althouse and Dr. Richard Casdorph, came to her defence.
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Various other members of the medical community, including Dr. Richard Casdorph, who was affiliated with the cancer‐research department of the Johns Hopkins Hospital, gave testimonies in support of the healing accounts which he stated he had investigated.
Family & Personal Life
At some point in the 1930s, Kuhlman became acquainted with Burroughs Waltrip, an evangelist from Texas, who was eight years older than her. Not long after they met, Waltrip finalised his divorce with his wife, deserted his family, relocated to Mason City, Iowa, and set up a revival centre named Radio Chapel.
Kuhlman, along with her friend and pianist Helen Gulliford, travelled to Mason City and began supporting him in raising money for his ministry. It was not long before the relationship between Kuhlman and Waltrip became widely known.
After Kuhlman and Waltrip took the decision to marry, she reached out to some of her friends, expressing her doubts and stating that she could not "find the will of God in the matter." They and others advised her to cancel the wedding, but she went through it anyway, convincing herself and others that Waltrip’s wife had deserted him and not the other way around.
On October 18, 1938, they had a secret ceremony in Mason City. Her nickname for Waltrip was “Mister”. However, the marriage did not bring her peace about their relationship. The union did not produce any children.
During a 1952 interview to the ‘Denver Post,’ Kuhlman had this to say about her marriage, “He charged—correctly—that I refused to live with him. And I haven't seen him in eight years.” Their divorce was finalised in 1948.
Death & Legacy
Kuhlman was told by her doctors that she had developed a heart problem in her late 40s in 1955. She continued to maintain a busy schedule for the next two decades, spending much her time away from her home, visiting cities and towns all over the United States and other countries and attending two- to six-hour-long meetings which finished late.
In July 1975, she was informed that the doctors had detected a minor heart flare-up. In November that year, she became sick and had an open-heart surgery in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She passed away shortly after, on February 20, 1976, at the age of 68.
She was buried in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. A plaque has been set up in her honour in the main city park in Concordia, Missouri, a town in central Missouri on Interstate Highway 70.
Following her death, her final will became a subject of controversy. She had distributed $267,500, the bulk of her estate, among three family members and twenty employees. Small endowments were made to 19 other employees.
In a report published in the ‘Independent Press-Telegram,’ it was revealed that her employees felt disheartened that she did not sign most of her estate to the foundation in her final will. The Kathryn Kuhlman Foundation continued to be active for the next four decades before permanently closing in 2016.
A debate has been raging for several decades on the veracity of her ministry. Many of her supporters still believe that she is a crucial precursor to the present-day charismatic movement. However, there are people who contradict this, arguing that she never gave lessons on the core tenets of the "word of faith" and "hyper-prosperity" doctrines. She has been an inspiration to faith healers like Benny Hinn and Billy Burke.