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Richard Ollis accepts the award during the Springfield chamber's annual meeting, held Jan. 26 at Oasis Hotel & Convention Center.
provided by Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce
Richard Ollis accepts the award during the Springfield chamber's annual meeting, held Jan. 26 at Oasis Hotel & Convention Center.

2024 Springfieldian goes to Ollis

The businessperson and civic leader receives award during the Springfield chamber’s annual meeting

Posted online

Businessperson and civic leader Richard Ollis is this year’s recipient of the Springfieldian Award, an honor given annually to an individual with strong community service, excellence in their field and dedication to improving quality of life for Queen City residents.

The award presented Jan. 26 marked the culmination of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting at the Oasis Hotel & Convention Center. The Springfieldian Award is the chamber’s top honor, and Ollis joins past recipients that include attorney and community volunteer Joe Carmichael, Great Southern Bancorp Inc. (Nasdaq: GSBC) President and CEO Joe Turner, developer Warren Davis, Springfield Underground leader Louis Griesemer and Hamra Enterprises founder Sam Hamra.

Speaking on stage at the event, Ollis credited his time after high school in the U.S. Navy for preparing him on his career path.

“When I was out on the John F. Kennedy washing dishes and cleaning bathrooms, I couldn’t have imagined being here tonight,” he said.

Ollis also thanked his family and his team at Ollis/Akers/Arney, for which he serves as CEO. The multigenerational insurance firm was founded in 1885.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned along the way, it’s to surround yourself with great people and be supportive of them,” he said at the event. “If we’re supportive of one another, we can make our community great.”

Speaking in an interview with Springfield Business Journal after the chamber’s annual meeting, Ollis encouraged those who are early in their careers to push for excellence, even if honors like the Springfieldian Award appear out of reach.

“We all go through life’s journey. It’s pretty amazing to me as I look back that that happened,” he said. “I just happened to be at the right place at the right time with a little bit of initiative and ambition.”

At Ollis/Akers/Arney, Ollis succeeded his now-retired father, Ron, in various leadership roles along the way.

“He is very fond of Springfield, Missouri, and the surrounding community,” Ron Ollis said in a video that played at the event prior to the announcement. “I think he wants to improve the community the best he can.”

Richard Ollis recently completed his tenure as a two-term member of Springfield City Council. He’s a founding board member of the Restore SGF homeownership initiative, and he’s served as past board chair for the Springfield chamber and on boards such as the Springfield-Branson National Airport, Commerce Bank and the Safety Council of the Ozarks.

Mayor Ken McClure was among those interviewed for the video played at the event. He said Ollis has three qualities that make him deserving of the Springfieldian Award.

“The first that I found is a vision,” McClure said. “The second is the ability to articulate that vision, and finally the ability to figure out what steps need to be taken to carry out the vision.”

Ollis spoke of his time on council in an April 2023 SBJ article. He said he considers an overarching win of his time on council that body’s focus on quality of place. That theme informed the $26 million Grant Avenue Parkway project to create a multimodal north-south route from Bass Pro Shops to downtown, as well as the daylighting of Jordan Valley Creek and the planning that is underway at Lake Springfield.

“I’m proud of our efforts, both publicly and privately, to create a quality of place that people want to live, work and raise their family in,” he said at the time.

The annual Springfieldian recipient is chosen by a selection committee at the chamber after nominations are submitted.

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