LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Barron Hilton — a giant in the world of business, sports and philanthropy — died Thursday at his Los Angeles home. He was 91.
Hilton took over his family’s hotel business — succeeding his father as CEO of the Hilton Corp. — in 1966 and turned it into a worldwide empire, helped found the American Football League — once owning the Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers — and, 10 years ago, he left 97% of his fortune to his family’s foundation that supports humanitarian programs around the world.
“Simply put, the modern NFL would not be what it is today without the vision of Barron Hilton,” Chargers owner and Chairman of the Board Dean Spanos said.
The Chargers won five divisional titles and one AFL Championship during his six years as president of the club. Hilton was also instrumental in the merger of the AFL with the National Football League that created the Super Bowl.
In his spare time, Hilton was said to enjoy hunting, fishing and flying. The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation said he was known as a “skillful and conservative” pilot.
Hilton was born in Dallas Oct. 23, 1927 and joined the United States Navy at the age of 17 where he was deployed to Pearl Harbor as photographer’s mate providing identification credentials for naval personnel in World War II.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Marilyn, who died in 2004 at the age of 76. He is survived by his eight children, 15 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
“He was a Legend, a visionary, brilliant, handsome, kind and lived a life full of accomplishment and adventure,” Paris Hilton, a granddaughter of Barron Hilton, tweeted. “Ever since I was a little girl I have looked up to him as a businessman.
“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.”