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Roy E. Winegardner, a Pioneer in the Hotel Industry, 
1920 - 2009

Roy E. Winegardner, a pioneer in the hotel industry and former CEO and chairman of Holiday Inns, passed away at his home in Eads, Tenn. on September 30. 

He was born in Springfield, Mo. on November 15, 1920. After proudly serving in the Merchant Marines during World War II, he returned to Springfield and began his career in 1946 as a plumbing contractor. He eventually expanded his operation into an 11-state area. 

In 1957, he entered the hospitality industry and built his first Holiday Inn in Lexington, Ky. In 1958, Winegardner partnered with John Q. Hammons forming Winegardner & Hammons, Inc., which over the past 50 years has been involved in the development, ownership and operation of more than 100 hotels. In 1969, Winegardner & Hammons merged 23 hotels with Holiday Inns, Inc., resulting in their becoming one of the largest shareholders of the parent company. In 1974, Holiday Inns, Inc. founder and Chairman Kemmons Wilson asked Winegardner to come to Memphis to serve as president of the company, and Winegardner later followed Wilson as chairman and CEO of Holiday Inns, Inc. Under his skilled leadership, the company enjoyed dramatic growth and eventually developed industry first niche products including Embassy Suites, Hampton Inns, and Homewood Suites, while also acquiring Harrah's gaming company. In 1984, Winegardner officially retired from Holiday Inns, Inc., but continued working daily, turning his attention to his two private business interests in hotels and the financial markets. 

He was an avid sportsman when not working and enjoyed hunting, fishing, and playing golf. Winegardner was the recipient of numerous industry awards, including Chief Executive Officer of the year. In 2004 he was inducted into the Hospitality Hall of Honor, along side such luminaries as Walt Disney, J.W. Marriott, Conrad N. Hilton, Kemmons Wilson, Ray Croc and Howard Johnson. Winegardner was active in philanthropic works and through The Winegardner Community Foundation generously supported over thirty non-profit organizations including the Mayo Clinic, St. Jude Children's Hospital, The Cleveland Clinic, Make a Wish Foundation of the Mid-South, Give Kids The World, Junior Achievement, and numerous other foundations. Winegardner also believed strongly in providing educational assistance to young individuals willing to work while in school and provided academic scholarships to students in need over the past twenty-five years. 

Winegardner is survived by his wife Ann and her extended loving family; children Jane Winegardner and Jill Maple-Thomas, Nicolas and Diego Winegardner and their mother Alicia Pardo-Winegardner; grandchildren Camille Hoagland, Christopher and Corey Maple, Cara Hochhalter, Alex, Nicolas, Ashton and Juliet Winegardner; and great-grandchildren Radiance and Sheva Hoagland. He was preceded in death by his parents, Sam and Frona, his son Peter and Peter's mother Flora Jane, and his first great-grandson Moses Hoagland. 

Winegardner impacted many lives and leaves a lasting legacy of good works and deeds. He will be greatly missed by all those that knew him and loved him. Services will be held at the Memphis Funeral Home, October 6 at 10:00 a.m. Visitation will be held at Memphis Funeral Home, October 5 at 5:00 p.m., 5599 Poplar Avenue, Memphis Tenn. (901-725-0100). Graveside services will be Wednesday, October 7 at 3 p.m. at Lexington Cemetery. Kerr Brothers Funeral Home - Main Street is in charge of arrangements. 

Donations in lieu of gifts should be made to The Lord's Kitchen, P.O. Box 19229, Louisville, KY, 40259, 502-964-3304, ext. 1250.

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Contact:

Cindy Swift
National Director Business Development
4243 Hunt Road
Cincinnati, Ohio 45242
513-794-2419
cindy.swift@whihotels.com
www.whihotels.com 

 

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