The loss of John Q. Hammons on Sunday feels a bit like losing a founding father. What he brought to Springfield has forever changed the city’s face and focus.
Fountains, buildings, a street and even a baseball field bear his name, a testimony to the construction company he founded in the 1960s. But those monuments represent more than development. They demonstrate the vision and the heart of the man.
Small in stature, Hammons was a visionary with a large presence in the Springfield area. A country boy with a teacher’s education, he demonstrated that he had a head for business and a heart for his community.
After returning from military service, he embraced the building boom that followed World War II and began a successful career in construction. Eventually he developed shopping centers and subdivisions on Springfield’s south side, opening up the city for its future growth.
Branching into hotels, he not only made a fortune for himself and his company, he established Springfield as a place to visit, hold conferences and host sporting events and tournaments.
An Ozarks native who never lost his connection with home, Hammons used his fortune to help others. He donated $1 million to his alma mater, Missouri State University, in 1976 to build the John Q. Hammons Student Center, which continues to serve the campus. Hammons didn’t stop there with his support of the university. In addition to the Hammons House dormitory, there is the Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts, named for his wife, and the JQH Arena.
He built the tallest building in Springfield; financed Hammons Heart Institute on the Mercy hospital campus, making Springfield a medical destination; supported the arts; created the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame; and won nearly every award — locally and nationally — given. And still, he meant more to us.
We have lost a founder of a vision for Springfield: a vision of education, creativity, health and excitement.
Copyright Springfield News Leader. Reprinted with permission.