by Sarah J.F. Braley | June 25, 2013
Stephen Garff Marriott, son of Marriott International executive chairman J.W. "Bill" Marriott Jr., died Sunday following a long battle with a degenerative mitochondrial disease. He was 54 years old. Most recently working as the company's executive vice president for culture, Stephen led Marriott Worldwide Business Councils and was responsible for instilling Marriott's core values and culture throughout the company.

"Stephen was an inspiration to us every day as he struggled with a challenging disease that cost him his eyesight and hearing, and he never complained," said his father. "He came to work right until the end to champion the values that his grandparents established when they opened their first root beer stand. Stephen was convinced that our Marriott culture was our greatest competitive advantage. His wife and children will remember his ability to find joy and happiness, despite his daily hardships."

Since joining the Marriott work force in 1975, Stephen's career included various hotel positions, from front desk and housekeeping to banquets, marketing and accounting. He became a sales manager at the Mountain Shadows Marriott Resort and Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., and  worked his way up to become general manager of the Bethesda (Md.) Marriott Hotel in 1991. He then joined the executive ranks at the chain's  Bethesda headquarters.