Rick Stanley, a stepbrother to the late rock n'roll icon Elvis Presley, has passed away. Stanley, who was an evangelist, died on Jan. 5 at age 65 due to liver and kidney failure. Stanley turned to Christ two months after Presley's death in 1977 and, as an evangelist, spoke at Billy Graham-sponsored events and in a multitude of other settings. A memorial service for Stanley is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 20.
At the age of 5 or 6 (accounts vary), Stanley and his two brothers became stepbrothers to Elvis Presley in 1960 when their mother, Dee, divorced her husband and married Elvis Presley's father, Vernon.
The three brothers relished the attention they received from Elvis, including an array of gifts, from toys to bicycles and playground equipment, Stanley said in a 1989 People magazine interview. At age 16 or 17 (accounts also vary), Stanley became a personal aide to Elvis and, as he described it, eventually became one of those who gave the singer prescription drugs before his concerts and before he went to sleep at night.
Stanley also veered into drug use and, according to a 2010 Associated Press feature, was bailed out of jail by Elvis in 1975 for a forged prescription and subsequently entered rehab. At the time of his death, Stanley was not afflicted with any addiction, Arthur stated to Baptist Press.
As a teen, Stanley had begun a friendship with a Christian girl named Robyn through a social event. They often went to church together and stayed in touch as he was out on the road with the Presley entourage.
"Every time I would talk to her, she would end the call the same way, 'Rick, I am praying for you,'" Stanley said in chapel at Southwestern. "It was like dial-a-prayer or something."
On the day before Presley died, Stanley told him what Robyn was saying about Jesus and how she was praying for him.
"Elvis Presley, at 42 years old, looked at me and said, 'Ricky, she's telling you the truth.' Then he said, 'People who talk to you about Jesus really care.'"
Stanley, who had to leave Graceland upon Elvis' death, and Robyn were together the night he surrendered his life to Christ at a storefront church in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., where Robyn's family had moved.
"I am not a recovering or former anything," he said at Southwestern. "I am a new creation in Christ Jesus."
Before becoming a Christian, he had "the theology without the testimony" and "didn't know God loved me," Stanley said. "My impression of Christianity, I had always believed it, but I thought you had to stop something then come to know Christ. It doesn't work that way.
"We need a reformation in salvation theology because we got an awful lot of people out there in the world today ... they want to come to know Christ, but we look at them and say, 'You need to stop that stuff and come to know Christ.'
"No, you come to know Christ" and then by Christ's empowering, "you stop that stuff."