The Falwell Family History

Forbes profiles Rev. Jerry Falwell and his son, Jerry Falwell Jr. and their efforts to turn Liberty University into a “a West Point for the faithful.”

The article examines how the Falwells turned their business around after falling into a $100 million debt which stemmed from the school’s reliance on Falwell’s dwindling ministry.  Part of the recovery can be attributed to the fact that they have received multi-million dollar donations from the likes of best-selling “Left Behind” author Tim LaHaye, who donated $7 million to “build an ice rink and a student center with five basketball courts and an Olympic-size pool.” 

The Falwells still have a long way to go to reach their goal – a one billion dollar endowment – but Forbes offers this anecdote testifying to the family’s tenacity

[T]he Falwells have a history of persuasiveness in Lynchburg (pop.: 65,269), where 56 relatives are buried. Jerry Sr.’s father, Carey Hezekiah Falwell, ran a string of gas stations during Prohibition, using his fuel trucks to smuggle bootleg whiskey. After Carey shot his younger brother to death in self-defense, he became an alcoholic with a nasty knack for keeping his staff in line. An employee called in sick one day, so Falwell caught the man’s cat, killed and cooked it, then delivered the remains to the employee’s home as a complimentary lunch. And once, after a drunken patron turned belligerent at a Falwell-owned restaurant, Carey grabbed the customer and threw him into a bear cage, where he was maimed by the beast, then set free. Tough dudes, these Falwells.

To say the least.