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City of Springfield News Releases (General)

Posted on: February 19, 2020

Remembering Dr. Robert H. Spence


Mayor Ken McClure, City Council and the staff of the City of Springfield express sincere condolences to the family of Dr. Robert H. Spence, president emeritus of Evangel University, who passed away Feb. 19 after suffering an incapacitating stroke.

“Dr. Spence was a spiritual leader and community counselor, who exemplified the characteristics and traits all great leaders aspire to have,” said Mayor McClure. “When I think of him, the one phrase I think of is servant leadership. The best leader is the one who seeks to serve others. It’s biblically-based, but it applies literally in all walks of life.”

Dr. Spence served as a goodwill ambassador for our community, not only for his 40 years of service to Evangel, but with his many more years of service to the community at large.

City leaders and more than 100 friends and family had recently gathered on February 10 to present Dr. Spence with a key to the city, a rare and distinguished honor.

“Dr. Spence was an icon,” McClure said. He served with various community boards and organizations, including the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, City Utilities, the Springfield-Branson National Airport and on the board of directors for CoxHealth and the Downtown Rotary Club.

He had also received multiple honors through the years for his community service, receiving the Springfieldian Award and the Missourian Award in 2004, and one of the inaugural Springfield Men of the Year by the Springfield Business Journal in 2011.

During the key-to-the-city Feb. 10 ceremony, McClure explained how Spence truly lived the Rotarian motto of “service above self,” quoting the four-way test used by Rotarians world-wide as a moral code for personal and business relationships.

“Of the things we think, say or do, Dr. Spence conducted himself and those he mentored to help others by asking the following:

1. Is it the TRUTH?
2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

There are not many people in this world like Dr. Robert Spence. This loss for our community is enormous.”

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For more information, contact: Cora Scott, Director of Public Information & Civic Engagement, 417-864-1009 (office) | 417-380-3352 (cell),

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