Tamara Faye LaValley was born on March 7, 1942, in International Falls, Minn. When she was 3, her mother and her father, a truck driver, divorced. Her mother then married a widowed textile mill worker and created a new household in which Tammy was the oldest of eight children.
She had a strict religious upbringing and, when she was 10, she had an epiphany of sorts, which she described in her 1996 autobiography, “Tammy: Telling It My Way.” At the Pentecostal church that her mother attended, she reported, she began speaking in tongues, prompting her to promise to devote her life to religion.
She met Jim Bakker at North Central Bible College in Minneapolis, where he was the night monitor at her dorm. He proposed to her on their first date, and they were married in 1961.
In addition to Mr. Messner she is survived by a daughter, Tammy Sue Chapman; a son, Jay Bakker; and two grandsons.
Ms. Messner’s health began to fail in 1996, when she learned she had colon cancer. She was told in 2004 that it had spread to her lungs. She talked candidly about her illness on television and in her 2003 memoir, “I Will Survive ... And You Will, Too!”
“I want my funeral to be a real happy time,” Ms. Messner told Larry King on CNN in March 2006. “I want everybody laughing and remembering how crazy I was.”