Published 5:35 PM EDT Sep 20, 2019
Hotelier and philanthropist Barron Hilton died on Thursday of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles, his family’s Conrad Hilton Foundation confirmed in a press release. He was 91.
“The Hilton family mourns the loss of a remarkable man,” his son, Steven M. Hilton, who serves as chairman of the board at the foundation, said in a press release. “My father was a loving husband to our mother, Marilyn, a wonderful role model to his eight children, a loyal and generous friend, visionary businessman, respected leader and a passionate sportsman. He lived a life of great adventure and exceptional accomplishment.”
Born in 1927, Hilton served in the Navy and then spent 20 years as an entrepreneur before joining the family business as a vice president in 1954.
In 1966, he took over as chairman, president and CEO of Hilton Hotels Corporation. In his 30 years at the helm, he dramatically expanded the domestic hotel chain begun by his father with a lucrative series of real-estate acquisitions and mergers. He also took the company into the gaming industry before selling those operations over the course of 2006 to 2007.
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.
In 2007, he announced he would donate $1.2 billion in proceeds from the sale of Hilton Hotels Corporation and Harrah’s Entertainment to his father’s eponymous foundation, whose mission is to “relieve the suffering, the distressed and the destitute.”
That year, at a foundation board meeting, he signaled his intent to follow his father’s example of donating 97% of his net worth (valued at $2.3 billion in at the time) to the nonprofit, which has supported causes such as ending chronic homelessness in Los Angeles, disaster relief and recovery and water and sanitation systems in the developing world.
He leaves behind eight children, 15 grandchildren (including Nicky and Paris Hilton) and four great-grandchildren.