In Memoriam: Dr. Donald Ellis Wildmon

NRB | January 4, 2024 | Member News

Dr. Donald Ellis Wildmon, founder of the American Family Association (AFA), went to be with the Lord on December 28, 2023, at the age of eighty-five.

“Dr. Wildmon had an unwavering faith and dedicated himself to the preservation of Christian values,” shared NRB President & CEO Troy A. Miller. “Don’s visionary leadership at the American Family Association, along with his commitment to addressing moral challenges affecting families today, continues to inspire. His loved ones will be in our prayers.”

In 1977, Wildmon initiated the creation of AFA in response to the rising concerns about unsuitable content on television. This grassroots movement gained traction when Wildmon, a pastor and a father of four, encouraged his church in Southaven, Miss., to switch off their televisions for one week. His call resonated widely, capturing local and national attention and leading to the establishment of a ministry that rallied millions around crucial issues like life, marriage, family, and religious freedom.

AFA’s influence expanded with the introduction of the American Family Radio network in 1991, rapidly growing to include 200 stations. Under the leadership of Don’s son, Tim Wildmon, AFA stands as a prominent family-centric organization, carrying forward Don Wildmon’s legacy of championing Christian values.

“My father was a man with great conviction and vision,” said AFA president Tim Wildmon to CBN. “He knew how important it was for Christians to remain firmly entrenched in their faith in the face of an openly immoral society, and he lived his life for the Gospel every single day.” Wildmon is survived by his wife, Lynda, as well as four children, six grandchildren, and eleven great-grandchildren.

In 2016, Wildmon was inducted into the NRB Hall of Fame. The NRB Hall of Fame stands as a witness for today’s Christian communicators—a showcase of warriors for Christ who live exemplary lives of valor and compassion, blazing trails and leaving paths for succeeding generations to follow. The Hall of Fame award is NRB’s most prestigious award and is presented to an individual NRB member for invaluable contribution to the field of Christian communications, exhibition of the highest standards, and evidence of faithfulness in Christ. AFA has been an NRB member since 1985.

In response to Wildmon’s passing, NRB members have issued heartfelt statements:

TONY PERKINS, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: “Don was a remarkable man who I had the privilege of working very closely with during my first decade at FRC. Don had the true heart of a servant. He wasn’t fazed by criticism because he was not interested in the accolades of man; he was focused on making sure the cultural forces of the country didn’t prevent or inhibit the saving message of the Gospel…I am thankful for godly men like Don Wildmon.”

TED BAEHR, MOVIEGUIDE: “Don had an ability to not just target the exact right problem but he also had ability to galvanize people.”

ROBERT JEFFRESS, FIRST BAPTIST DALLAS: “Don Wildmon was a true pioneer in encouraging pastors like myself and thousands of others to speak out on the great moral issues of the day. He will be sorely missed by a country that needs him more than ever right now. We pray for the Wildmon family, and wish them every encouragement from Heaven that they will see Don again in Heaven, with all of the rewards he deserves.”

Read Wildmon’s full obituary and watch the Donald E. Wildmon Celebration of Life here.

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