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Sam Hamra
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Sam Hamra

Chamber names 2018 Springfieldian

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Last edited 9:38 a.m., Jan. 29, 2018

The Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce tonight honored Sam Hamra as its 2018 Springfieldian.

The attorney and founder of Hamra Enterprises received the award during the chamber’s annual meeting at University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center.

Founded in 1975, Hamra Enterprises now owns and operates 91 Wendy’s restaurants in four states, as well as 57 Panera Bread cafes in the Chicago and Boston markets and nine Noodles & Co. eateries in Missouri and Illinois, according to a news release. Wendys.com lists nine of the fast-food restaurants in Springfield.

Hamra in 2011 passed the torch to his son, Mike Hamra, who now runs Hamra Enterprises as president and CEO. Hamra Enterprises ranked third last year in SBJ’s annual Dynamic Dozen awards based on revenue and percentage growth. The company reported 3,393 employees in 2016, and posted three-year revenue growth of 107 percent. Company officials declined to disclose revenue. When Sam Hamra was named SBJ’s Lifetime Achievement in Business Award winner in 2010, the company had $150 million in revenue.

Hamra began his career in the military after completing business school at the University of Missouri. He served in the U.S. Army in Germany before being honorably discharged as a first lieutenant. He earned his law degree at MU, and he also worked as U.S. civilian aide to the secretary of the Army for the Western District of Missouri. Hamra is credited among leaders who spearheaded an expansion of Fort Leonard Wood.

Hamra, who has worked in the legal field for more than five decades, also founded Legal Services of Southwest Missouri, which provides legal services to those who can’t afford it. The nonprofit’s office building is named the Sam F. Hamra Center for Justice, according to the release.

Hamra’s private practice work includes positions with Miller, Fairman & Sanford and his own firm with law school classmate John Crow. He also has served as government relations attorney for the city of Branson and as Nixa city attorney, according to SBJ archives.

His life also has been shaped by meetings and relationships with political powers, executives, famous actors and athletes, including Donald Trump, Ted Kennedy, Colin Powell, Barack Obama, Sam Walton, Steve Forbes Jack Nicklaus and Bob Hope. Hamra has cited Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas, as well as St. Jude's founder Danny Thomas as personal mentors.

With his wife June, Hamra has given financially to several philanthropic causes and has served on the boards of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Ozarks Technical Community College, Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, CoxHealth and other organizations.

Through the Hamra’s Employees Reaching Out Fund, the Hamra family matches employee contributions for emergency relief efforts. The program has raised more than $1 million for employees to utilize for medical care and other services.

Last year, the chamber named Penmac Staffing Services Inc. founder Patti Penny as its Springfieldian. Other past recipients include Jim Anderson, William Darr, Roseann Bentley and John Q. Hammons.

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