This Mother's Day, I thought I'd share some memories of my mother who passed away 15 years ago at the age of 92.
Alice Sheets Marriott was truly an amazing woman. Her father died in 1919 from the flu epidemic following the First World War. Her older brother suffered from polio at a young age and wore a large brace on his leg and was not able to work. Their family was of very limited means, so when my grandmother started working, my mother did the grocery shopping and prepared the meals at the age of 11.
Mom graduated with honors from the University of Utah when she was 19 and married my father the next day. After the ceremony, they left for Washington, D.C. in a Model T Ford. It took them 11 days. When they arrived in D.C., they opened an A&W, nine-stool root beer stand. That was in 1927.
During the first winter, business dropped off dramatically when people stopped drinking cold root beer. Mom had a back-up plan that helped save the business. Using her apartment kitchen (because there wasn’t one in the little root beer stand), she prepared hot chili and tamales and delivered them to the restaurant. She was our first cook. She also kept the books making her our first Chief Financial Officer. Back then, root beer sold for a nickel a glass. At the end of the day, she'd put the sticky nickels in a brown bag and take them to the bank. My mom and dad were partners, co-founding what is known today as Marriott International.
Throughout the years, Mom stayed very involved in the company. When we were designing our third hotel in Dallas, mom and I went to Los Angeles and met with the interior designers for an entire week. She really drove the entire process. She was a major force behind every important decision in the company.
What I most admired about my mother was her strong sense of values and her determination. She was quiet and thoughtful, devoting much of her time to civic and cultural endeavors. In one of her obituaries it reads, "Alice Sheets Marriott was an American entrepreneur and philanthropist." But she was more than that to me -- she was Mom. When I was struggling with arithmetic in the second grade, she bought a small blackboard and coached me through addition and subtraction and began on the multiplication tables. She always encouraged me and my brother Dick.
This Mother’s Day – and for that matter every day -- honor your mom. My mother did a great job raising our family. We loved her very much, and we miss her a lot.
I’m Bill Marriott and thank you for helping me keep Marriott on the move.