Hotel magnet with Cassville ties dies at 94

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

John Q. Hammons, one of the nation's most successful hotel and resort developers, died on Sunday, May 26 at the age of 94 in Springfield.

Hammons, who was known for his business acumen and philanthropy, came from humble beginnings. He grew up in Fairview during the Great Depression and graduated from the high school there in 1937. He then attended Monett Junior College and Southwest Missouri State University where he earned his teaching certificate in 1939.

Hammons' first teaching job was at Cassville where he taught science, history and physical education to junior high students. He also coached basketball at Cassville, and during his tenure with the R-4 District, lived in a rented room at the historic Bayless House, which is now being restored by the Barry County Historical and Genealogical Society.

In 1942, Hammons left the education field and worked on a crew that constructed the Alaska Highway, which marked the start of his career in construction.

After building housing in southwest Missouri for a number of years, Hammons bought his first 10 Holiday Inn franchises with a partner in 1958. Eventually, Hammons went on to own 200 hotels nationwide, representing Embassy Suites, Marriott, Radisson and Holiday Inn.

Hammon's heart for philanthropy is on display throughout Springfield with Hammons Field, the JQH Arena at Missouri State University and the John Q. Hammons Parkway just a few of the civic projects that bear his name.

Hammons' giving also reflected his fondness for the small towns where he grew up and worked.

Fairview has benefited from the John Q. Hammons Community Center, and in early 2000, Hammons issued a fundraising challenge to the citizens of Barry County. He pledged $10,000 to match any funds raised for the Bayless House restoration project.

Hammons also offered to make a sizable donation toward the construction of an auditorium on the Cassville High School campus, but local voters failed to pass the bond issue that would have supported the project.

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