SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Dr. Robert Spence, a longtime servant of the Springfield community and retired president of Evangel University, died Wednesday morning after suffering a stroke on Sunday, February 16.

Spence served on numerous boards and committees in Springfield like the Springfield-Branson National Airport Board, City Utilities and also CoxHealth.

“He believed deeply and lived it, that you also serve the community where you live,” said Dr. Carol Taylor, Evangel University president. “I think it would be hard-pressed to find some area city service where you wouldn’t find his fingerprints today.”

Springfield Mayor Ken McClure, a longtime friend of Spence, says he was “larger than life.”

“When you see all the variety of things that he did over a long period of time, it’s really remarkable,” said McClure. “You just don’t see that very often.”

As a result of Spence’s dedication to serving the city, he was awarded the key to the city of Springfield on Monday, February 10 – just over a week before his passing.

“This morning, he got another set of keys to a much bigger kingdom,” said Taylor. 

Taylor says Spence will be remembered as “an extraordinary model of a life of faith, integrity, love, grace, kindness, generosity, humility… that would just be the beginning of the list.”

“He epitomized that. The best leader is the one that seeks to serve others without taking or getting credit for that,” said McClure. “That was Bob Spence.”

U.S. Senator Roy Blunt also issued the following statement, “Dr. Spence was a great friend and outstanding leader. We worked closely together in the four years I was President at Southwest Baptist University. I benefited in so many ways from his advice and continued friendship.”

According to President Dr. Carol Taylor, a public memorial service will be held on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020, at Evangel in the Robert H. Spence Chapel.

A visitation will be held between 1:30 and 2:45 p.m., and the service will be at 3 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, Spence’s family has requested contributions to the Robert H. Spence Evangel University Memorial Fund.

A memorial page can be found at www.evangel.edu/DrSpence.