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Industry Mourns Passing of Barron Hilton

LOS ANGELES — Hotelier and philanthropist Barron Hilton passed away at the age of 91 on September 19 at his home in Los Angeles.

“Today the world of hospitality mourns for one of the greats,” Christopher J. Nassetta, president and CEO, Hilton said in statement. “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. 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. On behalf of everyone at Hilton, I extend our deepest condolences to the Hilton family.”

Hilton succeeded his father, Conrad Hilton, as chairman, president & CEO of Hilton Hotels Corporation in 1966 and led the company until his retirement in 1996. Under his leadership, the company expanded through innovative real-estate transactions, including franchising and a bold move into the Las Vegas gaming market.

After retiring in 1996, he retained his role as chairman of the board and his hand-picked successor, Stephen F. Bollenbach, presided over a decade of mergers and acquisitions that made Hilton Hotels Corporation one of the largest and most successful companies in the industry.

Following the sale of Hilton Hotels Corporation and Harrah’s Entertainment — the successor gaming corporation to Hilton’s gaming operations — were purchased by two private equity firms in 2006 and 2007, Hilton accepted chairmanship of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation board, a role he held until 2012. 

In 2007, Hilton also announced that, like his father, he would leave 97 per cent of his wealth to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. This planned gift is projected to increase the foundation’s endowment from US$2.9 billion to US$6.3 billion and will make Barron Hilton the organization’s most significant donor.

Prior to joining Hilton, he was also an accomplished entrepreneur. He owned the Los Angeles distributorship for Vita-Pakt Citrus Products and founded McDonald Oil Co., Air Finance Corporation and the Carte Blanche Credit Card. He was also the founding owner of the Chargers of the American Football League and helped forge the merger with the National Football League that created the Super Bowl.

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