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Leading Christian author on relationships, Gary Smalley, died

Gary Smalley, leading Christian author and speaker on family relationships, died Sunday, March 6, at age 75.

Smalley authored 60-plus books with 6 million in sales. He taped numerous videos, led conferences in churches across the country and joined with other authors and speakers in various projects, such as resources to help people find freedom from pornography and other sexual sin by the ministry Freedom Begins Here.

Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, said Smalley also was “a trusted counselor in whom people confided their deepest longings, hurts, hopes and dreams. The practical advice and coaching he gave helped countless husbands and wives stave off divorce. How many children grew up with both their mom and their dad because God used Gary to repair and restore their marriages? More than you would imagine.”

Smalley was a guest on Focus on the Family’s broadcast more than 50 times, Daly said in a March 7 posting at focusonthefamily.com, noting, “I especially loved Gary’s sense of humor. He took the subject of marriage and family seriously, but he didn’t take himself too seriously.”

Smalley’s son Greg, Focus on the Family’s vice president of marriage ministries, said in comments he relayed to Daly, “I loved my dad’s authenticity and transparency. He made a living telling people how he messed up as a husband and father. He was humble enough to admit he made mistakes and driven to learn how to grow as a follower of Christ, husband and father. … [W]ho my dad was up on stage was exactly who he was at home.”

Attending his father’s events as a child, Greg Smalley said he was often told by people, “Your dad saved my marriage.”

Gary D. Chapman, another marriage and family author — notably “The Five Love Language” — and conference speaker, recounted, “People often got the two of us confused. I once told him that people would come to me to autograph his books. I said, ‘Early on, I told them that I was not Gary Smalley, but Gary Chapman, and they would be embarrassed. So, now I don’t say a word, I just sign your name.’ He laughed and said, ‘You have not signed nearly as many of my books as I have signed copies of The Five Love Languages.’

Among Smalley’s popular books were “If He Only Knew: What No Woman Can Resist”; “Making Love Last Forever”; “The Key to Your Child’s Heart”; and with John Trent, “The Blessing: Giving the Gift of Unconditional Love and Acceptance” and “The Two Sides of Love,” both Gold Medallion Award recipients from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.

Smalley also wrote several books with his wife Norma; with his son Greg; and with Ted Cunningham, pastor of the nondenominational Woodland Hills Family Church in Branson, Mo.

Smalley’s media appearances included “The Today Show,” “Fox & Friends,” “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and “Larry King Live.” His infomercial for a video series, “Hidden Keys to Loving Relations,” featured Pat Boone and, in later airings, John Tesh and Connie Sellacca and Frank and Kathie Lee Gifford.

He is survived by his wife, Norma, their three married children, Kari, Greg, Michael and 10 grandchildren

— BP news and CNJ staff

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