Gary Smalley, who wrote more than 60 books on relationships and worked closely with Focus on the Family, died on Sunday. He was 75.
“It is with heavy hearts that we announce Dr Gary Smalley, at age 75, graduated to heaven last night,” stated his Facebook page. “The family gathered and surrounded him, his loving wife Norma kissed his forehead gently and sang to him. This beautiful transition came to an end as these words were spoke over him ‘The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you (Numbers 6:24-25).’”
The prolific author and speaker appeared on Focus on the Family’s broadcasts more than 50 times.
“Gary was also a trusted counselor in whom people confided their deepest longings, hurts, hopes and dreams,” wrote Focus president Jim Daly in tribute. “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 began his career in 1979, traveling through Texas and explaining the 10 better ways to love your spouse, according to his Smalley Institute, which focuses on “saving marriages and relationships one couple at a time.” Those talks sparked two bestselling books: For Better or Best and If He Only Knew.
Smalley went on to sell more than 5 million copies of more than 60 books, including Making Love Last Forever, and appeared on Oprah, the Today show, and Larry King Live. He won Gold Medallion awards from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association for three of his books: Two Sides of Love, The Blessing, and The Treasure Tree.
In addition, he founded Focus on the Family’s National Institute of Marriage.
“I loved my dad’s authenticity and transparency,” Smalley’s son Greg, who is the vice president of marriage ministries at Focus on the Family, told Daly. “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.”
“Gary Smalley was an incredibly good counselor and author, and he was an all-around good guy,” Tyndale House CEO and Board Chairman Mark Taylor toldChristian Retailing. He noted: “[Smalley’s] influence will live on for many years through his books and through the lives he touched personally through his many counseling sessions.”
“Gary Smalley was a man of character with a tender heart to help people—and his books have changed marriages, relationships and lives all around the world," Alex Field, vice president and publisher at WaterBrook Multnomah, told the trade publication.
Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said Smalley was a “tremendous communicator. “
"When he spoke at our church, the place was packed, people were helped and hundreds of marriages were enriched,” Floyd told Baptist Press. “His impact was huge in every way. Thank God for his legacy that will live on through thousands upon thousands of people.”
Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, sent Baptist Press this story:
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.'
We had a good laugh. If people are going to confuse me with someone, I don't know of a better choice than Gary Smalley.