Barron Hilton, the son of Hilton Hotels founder Conrad Hilton, died on Thursday at his Los Angeles home, according to a report from Fox News. He was 91.
Hilton’s family confirmed the news in a statement that attributed Hilton’s death to “natural causes.”
Hilton was born in Dallas, Texas, in 1927, to his father Conrad and mother Mary Adelaide Barron. But although the younger Hilton would go on to make his name-bearing hotel chain great, he was not always in the hospitality business, according to The New York Times.
After graduating from high school, Hilton served as a Navy photographer during World War II. He later made a name for himself for producing orange juice products and founding an oil company and an aircraft leasing business.
He was also a founding owner of the American Football League (AFL); he founded the Los Angeles Chargers and even helped with the NFL–AFL merger, according to Fox.
From huddles to hotels
It wasn’t until 1951 that Hilton began working for his father’s company. But he and his father didn’t always see things eye-to-eye.
In the 1980s, Hilton challenged his father’s will, which left a share of his fortune to Catholic nuns, arguing that the move left the company vulnerable to a “hostile takeover,” according to Fox.
“It was a very painful decade,” Hilton said in a 1995 interview with USA Today. “Hilton vs. the nuns was not the best public relations move.”
Nonetheless, Hilton, who served as the hotel chain’s CEO for three decades, went on to make Hilton Hotels a leader in the industry.
Leaving his mark
Upon his death, Hilton left 97% of his estate, which far surpassed his fathers’, to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.
Hilton’s son, Steven M. Hilton, who is the current chairman of the foundation, released a statement following his father’s death calling him a “remarkable man” who “lived a life of great adventure and exceptional accomplishment,” according to ABC News.
Barron Hilton is survived by eight children, 15 grandchildren — included heiresses Paris Hilton and Nicky Hilton — and four great-grandchildren. His wife, Marilyn Hawley Hilton, died in 2004.