Following the Saturday death of downtown business owner Tom Billionis, the co-owner of The Coffee Ethic LLC is headed back to Springfield to determine the future of the business.
Jim Hamilton, who in 2007 started the Park Central Square coffee shop with Billionis, said he would be in Springfield in the next couple of days.
Billionis died suddenly on Saturday after suffering a health emergency while running on Sac River Trail, according to the Springfield News-Leader. He was 44. A spokesperson with the Greene County medical examiner’s office did not return a call requesting details by deadline.
“I’m just going to come back and help out where I can,” Hamilton said, noting he would work with Billionis’ wife Michelle to determine what would happen with The Coffee Ethic moving forward. “I’m pretty sure ownership would go to her.”
Hamilton, who now lives in Wyoming, left Springfield in 2013 to rejoin the Fellowship of Christian Athletes as a representative. He recently became director of western Wyoming for the organization after serving as a representative in Texas.
Hamilton said The Coffee Ethic has an ownership succession plan in place, and he would be reviewing it.
“I’m in the process of sorting through what that means - finding and re-reading it,” Hamilton said, noting he had been in the process of exiting the business to fully focus on the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. “I had to back off just so I could make a living and still fulfill my desire to be back in the sports world.”
This morning, a hand-written note remained on the door of the 124 Park Central Square shop stating the store was closed Saturday-Monday due to “an emergency.” Flowers laid at the foot of the entryway.
Hamilton said Billionis was his first hire during the 1990s while working as state director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Wyoming. To be closer to family, both moved to Springfield - first Billionis and then Hamilton. When Hamilton moved to the Queen City, he asked Billionis if he wanted to fulfill his dream of opening a coffee shop.
“He developed a love and a passion for coffee,” Hamilton said. “He had this incredible zest for life. He cared for people, and he desired to do what was right all the time. I think that’s why people were attracted to The Coffee Ethic and to Tom.”
A memorial fund has been set up at PlumFund.com to honor Billionis. As of 10:04 a.m., $4,300 had been raised of a $25,000 goal for causes Billionis was passionate about, including Boyd Elementary School, where his three daughters attend.
Sean Brownfield, a friend and owner of downtown barbershop Dapper, said via Facebook a memorial service is being planned later this week on the square.
During the weekend, several business owners and Springfield officials took to social media to express their sympathies. Below is a sampling:
Whataburger launched its second local store; Branson shop Revive Juice and Coffee Bar LLC moved; and a new Monett branch of the Barry-Lawrence Regional Library District opened.