SPRINGFIELD, MO — One talented music student at Evangel University will soon receive a new scholarship in the name of one of the most gifted music professors in the school’s 65-year history.
Hope Collins Raimer taught at Evangel (then College) for a brief but very influential period in the early-to-mid 1960s. Upon her passing in 2018, a music scholarship was established and has now been funded in her memory.
The first Hope Collins Raimer Music Scholarship will be awarded by the Evangel University Department of Music in the Spring, for the Fall 2021 semester.
Hope, the student
Raised in a musical home in Durban, South Africa, Hope was recognized as a prodigy at an early age. She began playing piano by ear at age six and won a national competition in her teens.
The fact is, Hope came from a long line of gifted musicians — her great-great-grandfather was Robert Schumann (1810-1856), one of the greatest composers of the Romantic Era.
According to her family, “God gave her a unique and rare talent on the piano, in playing, improvising and performing, as well as in choral music writing and arranging. Hope studied classical music and rose to be one of South Africa’s leading musicians.” (obit)
Her proficiency and perfect pitch eventually led her to further studies at Trinity College and the Royal School of Music in London, England, where she earned a music degree in teaching and performance.
Hope, the musician
Contacts in America soon led to a job offer. In 1961, Hope immigrated from Durban, South Africa, to Springfield, Missouri, with her seven-year-old daughter, only $10 in her pocket, and the promise of a job at the Gospel Publishing House.
Her musical talents were quickly recognized, and she was soon offered the job as Concert Choir Director at Evangel. During her time at Evangel, she also taught piano and wrote several of her inspired choral arrangements.
Throughout her career, Hope published approximately 80 compositions and arrangements, according to her husband, Ed Raimer, whom she married when he was a member of the United Sates Air Force Singing Sergeants. The couple was married 52 years and resided in Florida at the time of her passing.
“Hope absolutely loved her time at Evangel! It was such an exciting and rewarding time for her as she led the Concert Choir on tours across the U.S.,” said Raimer. He added that her published choral arrangements soon became nationally recognized, and that led to a successful professional career after she moved east with him.
“Her arrangement of ‘Peace Like a River’ was used by the Billy Graham Association in their crusades for a year,” he said. She also toured with a popular Gospel duo, The Hawaiians, for several years as well as sharing the concert stage with Bill Pearce, Merrill Dunlop, Ed Lyman, Damaris Carbaugh, Jack Conner and many other Christian musicians.
When the family lived in the Washington D.C. area, she was in-demand on piano for top social and political events with wealthy dignitaries and ambassadors. A high point was her performance for then-President Bill Clinton’s much-publicized high school class reunion reception held in Washington, D.C.
Hope, the influencer
Hope’s name is legendary among the early members of the Evangel family, affectionately known as the Pioneers.
The former General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God and recently appointed interim president of Evangel, Dr. George Wood, and his wife, Jewel, knew Hope when they were students at Evangel. They were so impressed that a few years later, they gave their only daughter the middle name Hope in her honor.
“She was the best, most inspirational, most anointed director I’ve ever sung with,” said Jewel. “Hope would direct the Concert Choir from the piano and, oh, she was such an inspiration! She brought everything out of us, and we wanted to give our best.”
Former Missouri Governor, Senator and U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft took music lessons from Hope, who worked at Evangel when John’s father, Dr. J. Robert Ashcroft, was president (1958-1973).
“She was a creative and performing genius, whose brilliance did not impair her capacity to encourage and inspire the most humble and primitive students like me,” said Ashcroft.
Recently retired music professor Sharon Wilkins, herself a local legend after leading the Evangel Concert Choir for 31 years, credits Hope with recruiting her to Evangel as a student.
“I became acquainted with Hope Collins during my freshman year in college,” said Wilkins. “I was the organist for Revivaltime, the international radio weekly broadcast of the Assemblies of God. In the Spring of 1961, Hope invited me to play the organ on a few pieces she had arranged for the Evangel College Concert Choir. That was my first opportunity to work with her.
“To know her was to love her! To play organ with her playing the piano and performing many of her arrangements, was to be in awe of her musical genius!”
Because of their working together for the recording of Evangel Echoes, and traveling with the MelaTones trio during the summer, Wilkins transferred to Evangel College for the fall semester of 1962 and graduated in 1965.
Hope, the friend
“The choir sang in major city-wide auditoriums throughout the Midwest, such as Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis and McCormick Place in Chicago, attracting hundreds of prospective students to Evangel and inspiring people in many Assemblies of God churches in many parts of America,” said Hubert Morris, class of ’65.
Hubert and Glenda Morris, who have been married 57 years, point to Hope as the one who helped them find each other. “Hope personally got Glenda and me together for our first date to perform a duet in a Fall Festival student event during our Freshman year at Evangel, 1961-62,” he said.
Both were members of the Concert Choir during her tenure, and those road trips for concert ministry lay a good foundation for Hubert and Glenda’s many years of traveling in music ministry with their three daughters.
In addition to their years of service in pastoral ministry, Hubert also served as vice president of advancement for Evangel through the 1980s and 1990s.
“We are thrilled that a scholarship in Hope’s name will be a continuing legacy to her godly influence upon countless numbers of people that were affected by her excellence in music ministry,” he added. The Morris’ remained friends with Hope and Ed until her passing.
A contribution in memory of Hope Collins Raimer can be sent to Evangel University, 1111 N. Glenstone Ave., Springfield, MO 65802; or given online at https://advancement.evangel.edu/how-to-give/ . Please specify that the gift is for the Hope Collins Raimer Music Scholarship.
Hope is survived by Ed, her husband of 52 years, and her children, Sandy and Kevin. Please see the full obituary for more family information (also below).