Dispute over hotel magnate Hammons goes to court
Thursday, March 10, 2011
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — The dispute over the care of elderly hotel magnate John Q. Hammons is headed to court in southwest Missouri.
Eight friends of the 92-year-old Springfield developer filed a petition in Greene County Circuit Court on March 4 asking probate officials to appoint a legal guardian to oversee Hammons’ care. Hammons now lives in a Springfield nursing home.
The Springfield News-Leader reported Wednesday that the petition accuses the current CEO of John Q. Hammons Resorts and Hotels of keeping her predecessor in “involuntary seclusion” at the Manor at Elfindale nursing home.
Jacqueline Dowdy has power of attorney for Hammons. The petition says that Dowdy cites two doctors who have found Hammons to be incapacitated and unable to make his own health care decisions or communicate his wishes. Dowdy could not be reached for comment but has previously denied wrongdoing.
“I did it because I’m an acquaintance and felt it was the right thing to do,” said Bonnie Bell, a local television executive who is among the petitioners.
A hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. on March 22. The proposed guardian would be David Yancey, the county’s public administrator.
Former state Sen. Norma Champion, who is listed as a potential witness in the case, said that many people remain concerned about Hammons. Champion said she had been told that Hammons wanted to see her, but Dowdy said that she couldn’t.
“I can’t believe that anyone is so physically ill or mentally ill that they wouldn’t be allowed to see their friends unless they’ve asked not to,” Champion said.
Hammons, a former teacher, bought 10 Holiday Inn franchises with a partner in 1958. His company now operates more than 80 hotels in 25 states. Hammons is also a prominent civic leader in Springfield whose name graces a heart institute, the city’s minor-league baseball stadium and a new campus arena at Missouri State University.
Hammons said in a 2007 interview that his net worth was “north of” $900 million. A court filing attached to the probate court complaint lists the value of his income and property as unknown.
Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder traveled in November 2010 to Springfield to inquire about Hammons’ well-being. Kinder said that he was assured by Dowdy and three physicians that Hammons was in good condition, but his efforts to see Hammons were blocked.
“There is reason to be suspicious about what is going on,” Kinder told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Information from: Springfield News-Leader, http://www.news-leader.com