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Hotel magnate, Mo. philanthropist Hammons dies

May 27, 2013 • Business


FILE – In a March 30, 2004 file photo, John Q. Hammons poses for a photo in his new 8,000 seat baseball stadium in Springfield, Mo. Hammons, a prominent hotel developer and southwest Missouri philanthropist, died Sunday, May 26, 2013 at a nursing home in Springfield, Mo., said Sheri Davidson Smith, a spokeswoman for John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts. He was 94. (AP Photo/John S. Stewart, File)

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — John Q. Hammons’ first business went bust, saddling him with debt. Yet the son of a poor Missouri dairy farmer paid it off within two years and turned his sights to hotels, the cornerstone of what would become a national real estate empire.

Along the way, he opened his wallet to his home state, donating millions to hospitals, public television and colleges in Springfield. It’s a town where his name graces so many buildings and streets — from Missouri State University’s basketball arena, for which he pledged $30 million alone, to the city’s tallest building — that comedian Bob Hope once joked it should rename itself “Hammonsville.”

Among the businessman’s secrets: He avoided big-city locations in favor of properties in college towns and state capitals.

“He would say, ‘The kids will always go to school, and you can’t fire the damn politicians,’” former company executive Scott Tarwater once said.

Hammons, who died Sunday at age 94 in a Springfield nursing home, built more than 200 hotels nationwide, Login to read more

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