Hotel Industry Mourns the Loss of Eric Hilton

The retired vice chairman of Hilton Hotels Corp. and Conrad Hilton's youngest son passed away Dec. 10, at the age of 83.
Eric Michael Hilton

Eric Michael Hilton

McLean, Va.—The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation announced that Eric Michael Hilton, director of the Hilton Foundation & retired vice chairman of Hilton Hotels Corp., passed away on Dec. 10 from natural causes at the age of 83.

“Eric was a gregarious, charismatic leader who represented our family superbly throughout his career, both in the hotel business, and the work of our foundation,” Barron Hilton, the retired chairman, president & CEO of the lodging enterprise, said in a prepared release. “Through his charm and tenacity, Eric helped spur our growth through franchising, and guide our return to the international marketplace through Conrad International Hotels. My brother will be missed by everyone who benefitted from his kindness, friendship and philanthropy.”

In 1956, a 23-year old Hilton began working in the family business at the new Dallas Statler Hilton and was promoted and named resident manager of the Deshler Hilton in Columbus, Ohio, six years later. In 1960, he received his first appointment as general manager of the Hilton in Aurora, Ill., and followed that up the next year by being named general manager of the Shamrock Hilton.

By 1966, he was acting as southwest regional sales manager for the company’s franchising division, Hilton Inns Inc., and was named senior vice president in 1969. In that position, Hilton helped drive the company’s franchise development efforts for the next 14 years.

In 1983, Hilton was named senior vice president of development for the company’s new Conrad brand, marking the company’s return to the international marketplace after the sale of Hilton International 16 years earlier. He was elected executive vice president of Conrad International in 1986 and 20 years later helped the company in its reacquisition of Hilton International.

A longtime resident of Las Vegas, Hilton led the charge on Three Square, a nonprofit organization that collects and distributes food to children and seniors in Southern Nevada.

In addition, he was involved with many projects in Las Vegas, including the Smith Center, The Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, Opportunity Village and the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration at UNLV.

“My uncle’s passion and commitment to those less fortunate helped shape a number of the foundation’s key program initiatives,” Steven Hilton, chairman of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, said in the release. “Eric was a dedicated, ‘hands-on’ board member and a heck of a storyteller. He will be greatly missed by the Hilton Family and Foundation.”

Hilton’s career was also distinguished by his long service to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston in 1969, and was a valued member of the Hilton Foundation’s international jury that selects the recipient of the annual $2 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize.