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Hammons' friends seek public guardianship

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Several friends of Springfield businessman and hotelier John Q. Hammons have filed a petition to release Hammons from private seclusion and place him under the guardianship of Greene County Public Administrator David Yancey.

The petition – filed March 4 in Greene County Circuit Court – states that placing Hammons, 92, at his current residence of The Manor at Elfindale, 1707 W. Elfindale St., was not acting in his best interests.

According to the petition, Jacquie Dowdy, CEO of John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts Inc., who holds Hammons’ power of attorney, has “kept respondent, and continues to keep respondent, unreasonably and without due regard for the comfort, care and well-being of respondent, in involuntary seclusion.”

Dowdy was appointed to the company’s top spot in late October due to Hammons’ health.

Signatures were provided on the petition by Carolyn Newport; Russel Newport; Duff McCoy; Betty Carden; Harold Garrison; Donald Dailey; Bonita Bell; and Kenneth Meyer, all of Springfield.

“The hope on the part of the petition is simply to make sure that Mr. Hammons’ wishes are being met and that his health and concerns are being adequately taken care of,” said Bell, vice president of sales and development for Meyer Communications, who became acquainted with Hammons through Meyer, president of Meyer Communications.

Suffering from multiple cardiovascular, lung and pulmonary disorders, Hammons has been under the care of Dr. Steven Atwood of CoxHealth and Dr. Brian Griffin, a cardiologist with the Cleveland Clinic. In November, Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, who was looking into Hammons’ care as the state’s official senior advocate, said the doctors recommended no visitations to Hammons at The Manor.

“The doctor in Cleveland told me he was gravely concerned that Mr. Hammons might not survive while he was there. It was that serious,” Kinder said during a Nov. 1 press conference outside Hammons Field.

On March 9, JQH Hotels general counsel Justin Harris e-mailed a company statement to Springfield Business Journal and Springfield News-Leader:

“John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts is not a party to the petition that has been filed seeking to appoint a guardian for Mr. Hammons. The company has previously declined, and will continue to decline, to speak publicly about Mr. Hammons’ personal health condition, pursuant to Mr. Hammons’ repeated directions. We are confident that Mr. Hammons is receiving the best available care, consistent with his wishes and directives and the advice of his expert medical team. Both he and Mrs. Hammons are constantly in our thoughts and prayers.”

The attorneys for the petitioners are Thomas Peebles and John Price, both of Carnahan, Evans, Cantwell & Brown PC.

Also included on the petition were the names of 19 other individuals who might be called to testify in support, among them Scott Tarwater, former JQH Hotels vice president of development; Steve Minton, former JQH Hotels senior vice president of architecture; Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce President Jim Anderson; and former state Sen. Norma Champion.

Anderson said that as of March 9, he hadn’t yet read the petition and was surprised to learn he was listed as a person who could potentially testify.

“I certainly consider Mr. Hammons a dear friend,” he said. “I’m assuming that’s why I was listed.”

Anderson said he hasn’t seen Hammons since summer and noted he was sorry to have missed celebrating Hammons’ birthday on Feb. 24.

“He always enjoyed celebrating his birthday,” Anderson said. “There were a lot of people that wish they could have said, ‘Happy birthday.’”

A hearing is scheduled for March 22 at the Greene County Probate Court in the Judicial Courts Facility, 1010 N. Boonville Ave.

“Evidence will be heard and Commissioner (Carol) Aiken will make a ruling if Mr. Hammons does indeed need a guardian or not,” county administrator Yancey said via e-mail. “The commissioner may rule that day, or she may take it under advisement and make a ruling at a later date.”[[In-content Ad]]


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