Barron Hilton started out parking cars at his father's hotels and ended up running the whole chain, as well as owning an NFL team. "He was a Legend, a visionary, brilliant, handsome, kind and lived a life full of accomplishment and adventure," granddaughter Paris Hilton posted online Friday, noting she was "deeply saddened" after her grandfather's death was announced. "Ever since I was a little girl I have looked up to him as a businessman." Per the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the elder Hilton died Thursday of natural causes at the age of 91, CNN reports. Hilton, who was the son of Hilton Hotels founder Conrad Hilton, served as the head of the family-named chain for three decades, expanding the empire through what the foundation calls "innovative real estate transactions," including franchising.
Hilton also took an interest in professional football, becoming the founding owner of the American Football League's Chargers team in 1959. Per TMZ, Hilton also helped negotiate the merger of the AFL and NFL. "Simply put, the modern NFL would not be what it is today without the vision of Barron Hilton," Chargers Owner Dean Spanos says, per CNN. The foundation notes that Hilton also joined the Giving Pledge in 2007, vowing to give 97% of his billions to the foundation for its philanthropic work. Hilton's wife, Marilyn, died in 2004. He's survived by eight children, 15 grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and "thousands of friends and associates in his extended hotel family," per the foundation. (Read more Barron Hilton stories.)