Hundreds gather for Dr. Robert Spence's public memorial service

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) -- Dr. Robert Spence, former Evangel President and long time public servant was laid to rest Sunday evening.

He died last week after he had a stroke, it happened just a week after he was presented the key to the city of Springfield.

"What an honor to think about him today and to have the gift of memory," said Senator Roy Blunt.

Hundreds of people gathered both online and at the Robert H. Spence Chapel at Evangel University Sunday for Dr. Spence's public memorial service.

"This has been an amazing experience just to see all the love that the community has for Dr. Spence," said Bernie Dana, Spence's former colleague.

Dr. Spence's funeral service was attended by Evangel alumni, his family, friends and members of the community.

"The greatest memory for me was that great smile, the warm heart that radiated from who he was and the good example," Sen. Blunt said.

The two-hour public memorial service was filled with both tears and laughter. It brought back old memories for many people who attended.

"I have a picture of us laughing together that just is so special because it was seldom that we were together that we were together that we just didn't end up laughing," Dana said.

Spence's long-time personal assistant Carol Stair said Dr. Spence was a great boss.

"He was always someone that you respected and yet you didn't need to fear him," she said. "He was encouraging."

Dr. Spence spent 40 years as Evangel's president and served on the board of directors for CoxHealth, City Utilities, the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and many others.

"His ability to touch people and to make everyone feel special, but also to exhibit such leadership in such broad areas is just amazing," Dana said. "Today was a celebration of that."

The public memorial service was followed by a private graveside service for the family.

Read the original version of this article at www.ky3.com.