Hotelier and philanthropist Barron Hilton died on Thursday at his home in Los Angeles of natural causes at the age of 91. Conrad Hilton Foundation confirmed it in a press release on Friday.
Hilton took over Hilton Hotels Corporation as president and CEO in 1966 after succeeding his father, Conrad Hilton, who founded the hotel empire.
Hilton was also the founding owner of the NFL American League franchise the Los Angeles Chargers (now based in San Diego) before selling the team in 1966.
Hilton Hotels said in a statement that “today the world of hospitality mourns for one of the greats.”
“Barron Hilton was an incredible family man, business leader and philanthropist. From his leadership of our company for more than three decades, to the transformative work he led with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation for many years, Barron was a man unlike any other,” Hilton Hotels’ current president and CEO, Christopher J. Nassetta, said in a statement.
“I always found inspiration in how he saw the tremendous potential of hospitality to change the world for the better — and in the unique and meaningful ways he sought to make that happen,” Nassetta said.
Hilton retired in 1996, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation said in an obituary, and in 2007 he announced that he was committing 97 percent of his wealth to philanthropic work through the Hilton Foundation. That gift is expected to grow the foundation’s endowment from $2.9 billion to $6.3 billion, the foundation said.
Hilton was born in Dallas in 1927, he served in the Navy, and he was an entrepreneur for 20 years before being invited by his father to join the hotel corporation to become vice president in 1954, according to the foundation.
Hilton’s wife, Marilyn, died in 2004 and he is survived by eight children, 15 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, the foundation said.
His granddaughter Paris Hilton, the heiress, actress and reality television star, tweeted Friday that she recently told him what an impact he had on her life, and called him her mentor. “He was a Legend, a visionary, brilliant, handsome, kind and lived a life full of accomplishment and adventure,” she wrote. Ever since I was a little girl I have looked up to him as a businessman.”