Paul Crouch, the founder of Trinity Broadcasting Network and a pioneering televangelist in his own time, died today at the age of 79. His company, Trinity, was the largest of its kind and it reported the news on its website today, via The Los Angeles Times.

According to the network, Crouch had been having health issues since October, when he was admitted into a Dallas hospital. TBN reported that he had been having “heart and related health issues” and he was later transferred to a California facility for additional treatment.

Crouch’s career in California began when he moved there in the 1960s to manage the movie and television unit of the Assemblies of God. It wasn’t until the early 80s that he began work on what would eventually become TBN. Believing that he had received a message from god, Crouch began to buy television stations, cable channels and satellites and developed enough religious programming to sustain a 24-hour network. By the mid-80s, he had turned Trinity into “the country’s most-watched religious network,” according to J. Gordon Melton and Jon R. Stone in their book “Prime-Time Religion: An Encyclopedia of Religious Broadcasting.”

He went on to host TBN’s flagship programme Praise the Lord, alongside his wife. The programme was a two-hour nightly talk show, featuring various guests and focusing on scripture as well as entertainment. His four decades on television did not go without criticism, however, particularly about the extravagant life he and his family led. Critics claimed that Crouch used the donations of unsuspecting TBN supporters, as well as his organization’s tax exempt status, to finance his jets, mansions and lavish expense-account meals.