Today is a sad day for the sports world, as the last remaining member of the AFL’s original partners has passed on. Barron Hilton, best known for, of course, starting the Los Angeles Chargers franchise, passed away Thursday at 91 years of age.
Barron was the heir to his father’s hotel empire, and managed to grow that business through good times and bad. Beyond his creation of the Carte Blanche credit card (which he hinted might be the inspiration for the team name of ‘Chargers’), Hilton is also popularly recognized as a member of the ‘Foolish Club:’ 8 businessmen that pulled together resources to begin the American Football League, a rival to the NFL in the 1960s.
Barron Hilton is survived by two daughters, Hawley and Sharon Hilton, and six sons: Steven, the chairman of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation; Richard, the father of Paris Hilton and her three siblings; William Barron Jr.; David, Daniel and Ronald. He is also survived by 15 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. His wife, Marilyn Hawley Hilton, died in 2004 after sixty years of marriage.
While his father and grandchildren have enjoyed the spotlight, Barron largely stayed out of it. He enjoyed focusing on the businesses he created and foundations that he supported.
Mr. Hilton paid a $25,000 fee to obtain a franchise when he founded the AFL’s Chargers. After losing $900,000 in the first year of the Chargers’ tenure in LA, he moved the team to San Diego and enjoyed a period of success. Although he became a billionaire with his Hilton holdings, he told The Los Angeles Times in 2009 that “the happiest days of my life were the days I was involved with the Chargers.”
Those were profitable days as well. In 1966, he sold the majority interest in the Chargers for $10 million. Today, the Chargers nodded their helmet back to the Hilton family:
Statement on the passing of founding Chargers owner Barron Hilton pic.twitter.com/ZmRqjj6NRQ— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) September 20, 2019
-Jason “Charge forward” Michaels