In Memoriam: Barron Hilton

Barron Hilton
Photo by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

Barron Hilton, who led Hilton Hotels Corporation for 30 years, has passed away. 

“Today the world of hospitality mourns for one of the greats,” said Hilton President and CEO Christopher J. Nassetta. “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.”

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Hilton was born in Dallas October 23, 1927, moving with his father, Conrad N. Hilton, to Los Angeles in 1937. Following a deployment in the Navy and a career as an entrepreneur, he took over as president and CEO of Hilton Hotels Corporation from his father in 1966. For the next 30 years, he grew the company, delivering an average annual rate of return to shareholders of 15 percent with dividends and most notably expanding into the Las Vegas gaming market, before retiring in 1966. 

A philanthropist, Barron Hilton helped grow his father’s 1979 bequest of $160 million in Hilton stock into an endowment of more than $2.9 billion to support the philanthropic work of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. In 2007, Hilton announced that, like his father, he would leave 97% of his wealth to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. This planned gift is projected to increase the foundation’s endowment from $2.9 billion to $6.3 billion and will make Barron Hilton the organization’s most significant donor.

Following the sale of the hotel company in 2007, Barron Hilton accepted the chairmanship of the Hilton Foundation board, serving as chair until 2012 and continuing to serve on the board until 2014, when he stepped down at thee age of 87. 

Hilton is preceded in death by his beloved wife of nearly 60 years, Marilyn Hawley Hilton. He is survived by his eight children, 15 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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