R H Spence
Robert Herman Spence was born on Sept. 13, 1935, in McComb, Mississippi, to T.H. and Lucille Spence. He grew up in Montgomery, Alabama, and earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Alabama.
An ordained minister, Dr. Spence held pastorates in three Assemblies of God churches throughout Alabama over the course of 20 years. He also taught in the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, public school system and served for three years as the principal of a junior high school. In addition, he served as a presbyter in the Alabama Assemblies of God District for seven years before beginning his time as a member of the Board of Directors of what was then Evangel College in 1968.
Dr. Spence began his tenure at Evangel on May 1, 1974, and retired on April 30, 2014, serving for 40 years. At the time of his retirement, he was the longest-tenured college president in the state of Missouri and the second-longest in the nation. In an interview conducted at that time, he said, “This was my greatest opportunity — to work with young people in their formative years and prepare them for lives of achievement.”
During those years he oversaw the transition of the campus from its World War II beginnings into a fully completed university. Under his direction, enrollment doubled, Evangel gained university status, and ten master’s degree programs were added. Most importantly, he was part of the transformation of tens of thousands of students’ lives as they were nurtured and taught under his leadership.
His awards and honors are extensive. Most recently, on Feb. 10, 2020, Dr. Spence was awarded the “Key to the City” by Springfield Mayor Ken McClure, honoring Dr. Spence’s many years of service
In 2004, he was named Springfieldian of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce and received the Missourian Award, which acknowledges the most accomplished and recognized citizens of Missouri. He was also honored by the Springfield Business Journal with both the “Men of the Year” and the “Lifetime Achievement in Business” awards.
During his time in Springfield, he also served on the General Presbytery of the Assemblies of God, the Assemblies of God Chaplains Commission and the Board of Directors of Maranatha Village.
During his final three years at Evangel, Dr. Spence participated in the work leading to the approval of the consolidation of Evangel University, Central Bible College, and the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary.
Dr. Spence passed into the presence of the Lord on Feb. 19, 2020.
Used by permission of Steve Spence.