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San Antonio remembers the life of Rev. Buckner Fanning

89-year-old religious icon died Feb. 14

SAN ANTONIO – The man who led Trinity Baptist Church for over four decades was memorialized on Sunday.

Many remember Rev. Buckner Fanning through his 30 second television commercials that were seen worldwide about by about a million people per week.

It started early for the Reverend, attending Baylor University in Waco where he participated in revivals.  From there he continued his education, and was already an evangelical rock star when he came to San Antonio’s Trinity Baptist Church in 1959. He was even featured in Newsweek.

Once in the city, he broke through barriers that no one had attempted, preaching a message of love to all denominations and their leaders as well. On one of his mission trips he met a man from Romania.

Buckner met Peter Costea in the 1970s.

“When he heard that I was persecuted because of my faith he said to me, do you mind coming to Texas?" Costea recalled.

So the church leader sponsored Costea and brought him to America. That sort of open-arms approach also earned him some criticism from conservative Baptists.  Other leaders call him a revolutionary figure in the world of religion.

“On Nov. 14, 1978 I landed in San Antonio, the San Antonio International Airport. My sponsor was Mr. Buckner Fanning.”

Now living in Houston, Costea said he made the most of his opportunity, where he practices law. In the end, the 89-year-old retired preacher was suffering greatly in the aftermath of his second stroke. He is survived by his wife, Martha, their three children and five grandchildren.