Sam Moore, who as CEO of Thomas Nelson grew the company into one of the largest evangelical Christian publishers in the world, died on June 1. He was 88.

After selling Bibles as a college student, Moore’s career in publishing began in 1958 when he established his own company, National Book Publishers. Three years later he launched a Christian publishing house, Royal Publishing, and, within a few years, had acquired New York based religious publisher Thomas Nelson and Sons. In 1969, Royal Publishing adopted the Thomas Nelson name (dropping and Sons) and moved to Nashville, Tenn., where it remains today.

As CEO of Thomas Nelson, Moore grew the company into a leading evangelical Christian publishing house. He acquired several publishers and imprints, and published prominent authors such as Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham, and Max Lucado. Moore also led a $4.5 million project to translate the King James Version of the Bible into the New King James Version, published in 1983.

Moore retired after nearly 47 years as CEO of Thomas Nelson in 2005, but remained in close contact with his successors. In 2012, HarperCollins Publishers bought Thomas Nelson as a part of its HarperCollins Christian Publishing arm (along with Zondervan).

Mark Schoenwald, president and CEO of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, said in a press release: “Sam impacted and changed the lives of countless people with his time, effort and resources. We are grateful for his vision and dedication to building our company, and appreciated his extended friendship after his retirement.”

Moore leaves behind his wife, Peggy; three children; six grandchildren; and two great grandchildren. The family asks that those wishing to honor Moore donate to any of the following ministries: Middle Eastern Bible Organization, Samaritan’s Purse, The Gideon’s International, and Westminster Chapel Presbyterian Church.