Barron Hilton death: Hotel tycoon and grandfather of Paris Hilton dies aged 91

Harriet Brewis
The Hilton Hotel chain magnate Barron Hilton has died aged 91: AP
The Hilton Hotel chain magnate Barron Hilton has died aged 91: AP

Hotel magnate Barron Hilton has died aged 91.

The man who transformed his father’s Texas hotel group into a global empire died of natural causes on Thursday at his LA home, his family have confirmed.

Hilton Hotels said in a statement: “Today the world of hospitality mourns for one of the greats.”

His son Steven Hilton and granddaughter, socialite Paris Hilton, are among the swathes of mourners to pay tribute to an “incredible family man, business leader and philanthropist.”

The 91-year old, took over Hilton Hotels Corporation as president and CEO in 1966 after succeeding his father Conrad Hilton who founded the group.

He went on to become a founder of the American Football League (AFL), overseeing its merger with the National Football League and starting up the Los Angeles Charger team.

He was also widely celebrated for his philanthropic work, and will reportedly commit 97 per cent of his wealth to humanitarian work through the Hilton Foundation.

The then US president Ronald Reagan, left, shakes hands with Barron Hilton in 1985 (AP)
The then US president Ronald Reagan, left, shakes hands with Barron Hilton in 1985 (AP)

Following the news of his death, his granddaughter shared a series of emotional Twitter posts, writing: “I am deeply saddened by the loss of my grandfather Barron Hilton.

“He was a Legend, a visionary, brilliant, handsome, kind and lived a life full of accomplishment and adventure.

“I feel so grateful to have had such an incredible mentor. I always wanted to make him proud.

“The last conversation we had a few days ago I told him how much of an impact he had on my life. His spirit, heart and legacy will live on in me.”

Hilton was born in Dallas on October 23, 1927. He moved with his father, Conrad N. Hilton, to Los Angeles in 1937, where he began his hospitality career as a teenager, parking cars for hotel guests.

He spent two decades as an entrepreneur before following in his father’s footsteps as president of the board of Hilton Hotels for three decades.

He retired in 1996, and in 2007 announced he was committing 97 percent of his wealth to philanthropic work through the Hilton Foundation.

That gift is expected to grow the foundation's funds from around £1.6 billion ($2.9 billion) to over £5billion ($6.3 billion).

HIs son Steven, who now serves as chair of the Hilton Foundation, said the family is mourning the loss of a remarkable man.

"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."

Hilton’s wife Marilyn died in 2004. He is survived by eight children, 15 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, the foundation confirmed.

In a statement, Hilton Hotels’ current president and CEO Christopher Nassetta, honoured a man “unlike any other”.

"Barron Hilton was an incredible family man, business leader and philanthropist,” Mr Nasetta said.

“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.”

"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.”

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