John Q. Hammons

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John Q. Hammons statue in Springfield, Missouri.

John Q. Hammons (born James Quentin Hammons on February 24, 1919) is an American businessman and one of the nation's premier developers of upscale luxury hotels and resorts.[citation needed] With over 50 years of experience in the hotel industry, John Q. Hammons has built and developed nearly two hundred (200) hotels.[citation needed] While many of the early hotels were Holiday Inns, today's portfolio of hotels include Marriott brands (Renaissance, Courtyard by Marriott, and Residence Inn by Marriott), Hilton brands (Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn, and Homewood Suites), and several independent properties including those named University Plazas and the award-winning Chateau on the Lake Resort and Conference Center in Branson, Missouri.[citation needed]

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Education

John Q. Hammons grew up in Fairview, Missouri, attended Fairview Elementary School and graduated in 1937 from Fairview High School.[citation needed] He was one of 12 graduating students that year.[citation needed] Immediately following high school, Hammons attended Monett Junior College (which ceased operations in the 1950s and was part of Monett High School)[1] and Southwest Missouri State Teacher's College (now known as Missouri State University) where he received his teaching certificate in 1939.[citation needed]

Early career

Upon graduating in 1939 with a teacher's certificate from Southwest Missouri State Teacher's College, Mr. Hammons began teaching science, history, and physical education to junior high school students in Cassville, Missouri.[citation needed] His teacher's salary for the first year was $40 per month and was raised to $45 per month in the second year.[citation needed] During this time, he served as a Cub Scout Cubmaster and the junior high school basketball coach.[citation needed]

The entry of the United States in World War Two, following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, forever changed history and Mr. Hammons's life.[citation needed] In early 1942, John Q. Hammons left the academic world and joined the Lytle Green Construction Company of Des Moines, Iowa to work as a cost accountant on the Alaska-Canadian Highway project which was also known as the ALCAN Highway and nicknamed the Road to Tokyo.[citation needed] This was to be Mr. Hammons's first experience in the construction industry and one which would shape his future.[citation needed] During his time in Alaska, Hammons saved every penny he earned and invested in the stock market.[citation needed] Upon completion of the highway and his return from Alaska, Hammons had managed to amass nearly $60,000 in savings.[citation needed] From 1943 to the end of the war, John Q. Hammons served in the Merchant Marines on a supply ship supporting troops in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters of war.[citation needed] When the war ended, he had achieved the rank of Lieutenant JG (junior grade).[citation needed]

In the late 1940s, Hammons began building suburban housing in Springfield, Missouri, and established a number of real estate ventures, including housing tracts, apartment complexes, and shopping centers.[citation needed] In 1958, he began his career in the lodging industry by co-purchasing with Roy E. Winegardner their first ten Holiday Inn franchises.[citation needed] In 1961, they formed Winegardner & Hammons Incorporated (WHI), a hotel development company based in Cincinnati, Ohio.[citation needed] By the end of the 1960s, WHI constructed nearly three dozen Holiday Inn hotels, prompting Hammons to form John Q. Hammons Hotels and Resorts in 1969.[citation needed]

Sports Enthusiast

Mr. Hammons's interest and fondness for sports began during his childhood years.[citation needed] He played basketball, which was to become one of his life's passions, during all four years of high school.[citation needed] At approximately 5'9" in height, Hammons was not particularly tall, but he could shoot the ball extremely well and was usually the high scorer.[citation needed] He continued his interest in basketball during his teaching years as a junior high school basketball coach.[citation needed] In two years of coaching, his team lost only one game in the first year and went on to be undefeated in the second year.[citation needed] He also played several years on the baseball team during high school and developed a passion for another sport in which he would play a key role in later years.[citation needed]

His passion for baseball culminated in the construction of one of the nation's premier minor-league baseball parks in Springfield, Missouri.[citation needed] At a cost of $32M, Hammons Field opened in April 2004 and is a first-class, state of the art stadium, and serves as home for the Springfield Cardinals.[citation needed] The Springfield Cardinals are a Double A affiliate team of the St. Louis Cardinals and play in the Texas League.[citation needed] In 2006, Mr. Hammons helped fund the 11,000-seat JQH Arena for basketball and special events on the Missouri State University campus.[citation needed]

Hammons Field

Personal life

Born on February 24, 1919 to James O. and Hortense Bass Hammons, Hammons grew up in Fairview, Missouri.[citation needed] He married Juanita K. Baxter on September 2, 1949 at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Springfield, Missouri.[citation needed] Although his proper first name is James, Hammons originally used the name "John Q." when he would introduce himself to city leaders or organizations as a way to convey the message that he was there representing the general public and progress. After a while, the name stuck and he has forever become John Q. Hammons.[citation needed]

Throughout his career Hammons has been involved in multiple philanthropic endeavors.[citation needed] He and his wife have funded the Hammons Heart Institute and Hammons Life Line helicopter for St. John’s Regional Health Center; the Hammons Student Center, Hammons Fountains, Juanita K. Hammons Hall for Performing Arts, and the JQH Arena at Missouri State University; and the Hammons School of Architecture at Drury University.[citation needed] In 2003 USA Today’s "Newspapers in Education Program" honored Hammons with an appreciation award for his ongoing commitment to Springfield, MO-area school students.[citation needed] Since 1993, he has dedicated a portion of funds to provide more than 700,000 copies of USA Today to schools and teachers, with the goal of inspiring student education of current events.[citation needed] In 2007 Hammons was the Recipient of the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) Lifetime Achievement Award in Recognition of his Accomplishments in the Lodging Industry and Community Service.[2]

Controversy about his estate

In 2011 his net worth was estimated at more than $1 billion.[citation needed] He has no children and his wife is in an institution with Alzheimer's Disease.[citation needed] Jacqueline Dowdy, who was formerly Hammons' administrative assistant was given power of attorney in 2008 and took control of the privately held company in October 2010, firing several high level employees.[citation needed] In March 2011, several people filed suit in Greene County, Missouri probate court to get a court appointed guardian for him.[citation needed] Those petitioning included local Chamber of Commerce president, a former state senator and two broadcast company executives.[citation needed] Filing the petition are Carolyn and Russell Newport, Duff McCoy, Betty Carden, Harold Garrison, Donald Daily, Bonita Bell, and Kenneth Meyer.[citation needed] They had said they had been barred from talking to Hammons since September 2010.[citation needed] Earlier Missouri Lt. Governor (and official state guardian of seniors) Peter Kinder said he had been told by doctors treating Hammons that he was properly cared for.[citation needed] However he could not speak to him.[citation needed] On March 18, 2011, at both the request of Dowd and the petitioners the records of the proceedings were sealed by the probate court.[citation needed] The petition said 27 people would testify on its behalf including retired Missouri State University athletics director Bill Rowe, TV news anchor Joy Robertson, former state senator Norma Champion, former Hammons Hotels executive Scott Tarwater, and Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce President Jim Anderson.[citation needed] Both Hammons and his wife are at The Manor at Elfindale in Springfield. [3][4] On May 11, 2011, the Springfield News-Leader reported that Greene County Probate Judge Michael Cordonnier had appointed Dr. James Coulter as Hammons' temporary guardian.[5]

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