Legendary hotel industry trailblazer, developer, Hammons dies

John Q. Hammons, a hotel industry legend who not only developed and ran successful hotels but devoted time and countless millions to philanthropy, died over the weekend in Springfield, Mo. He was 94.

The John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts website stated that over the span of a 52-year career in the lodging industry, he developed 210 hotels in 40 states, having "introduced the hospitality industry to signature-style, full-service hotels featuring atrium lobbies, expansive meeting and convention space, large guest rooms, podium check-in stations, and complete business traveler amenities that have become staples in a guest’s exceptional experience."

Reuters wrote that his company became the largest private, independent owner and manager of upscale hotels in the U.S. and now runs 78 hotels and nearly 19,000 guestrooms, under such brands as Embassy Suites, Marriott and IHG. Hammons formed John Q. Hammons Hotels in 1969.

"Hammons was a giant in the hospitality industry and was unwavering in his commitment to exceptional quality and service and to giving back to the community,” said Jacqueline Dowdy, CEO of John Q Hammons Hotels & Resorts. "He was a great mentor and friend and will be missed by all who came to know him, but his legacy will live on forever.”

Hammons grew up in Fairview, Mo., during the Great Depression and though was born James Quentin Hammons, he took the name John Q. (as in John Q. Public) to represent the general public. 

After World War II service, Hammons became a real estate developer in Springfield and built the city's first suburban housing and moved on to apartment complexes and shopping centers.

He donated hundreds of millions of dollars to Springfield and organizations such as the city's Hammons Heart Institute and the Hammons School of Architecture at Drury University.

According to the AP, Hammons' name graces so many buildings and streets in Springfield that comedian Bob Hope once joked the city should be named "Hammonsville."

Hammons is survived by his wife of 64 years, Juanita.

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