My Hero, Stephen (1959 - 2013)

June 25, 2013

Listen to Blog

Stephen Marriott (1954-2013) No parent should have to see their child die, and those who do are members of a club that no one wants to belong to.  Donna and I lost our dear son, Stephen, this week at the age of 54.  He had been diagnosed in his teens with a rare mitochondrial disease that slowly cost him his eyesight, his hearing, his strength, and finally, his life.  Yet during all those decades since his diagnosis, we remained hopeful that the doctors would find a cure.

Stephen is one of my great heroes, because he never allowed his disease to get in the way of his ambition or his passions.  He went to Brigham Young University, then got his master’s degree in business administration at Arizona State University in Phoenix.  He married Julie, the girl of his dreams, and they had three gorgeous children and five beautiful grandchildren.

He worked his way up in our company from summer jobs in high school, starting as a cook at the Bethesda, Md., Roy Rogers Restaurant, to his last position as Executive Vice President for Culture at Marriott International.  Stephen led our Marriott Worldwide Business Councils, and was responsible for perpetuating the company’s core values and culture.

He was a terrific inspiration to all of us every day as he came to work to champion the values that my parents established when they opened their root beer stand in Washington in 1927.  He was completely convinced that the company culture was our greatest competitive advantage with customers and associates.  He was passionate about the core values of putting people first and providing opportunities for everyone in the company.

Growing up, no job was too small for Stephen, who worked on the front desk, in housekeeping, banquets, marketing, sales, accounting; and he later ran one of our hotels in Maryland.  I remember how proud he was when he became the general manager of the Bethesda Marriott in 1991.

Stephen MarriottIn 2004, he received the company’s highest honor, the J. Willard Marriott Award of Excellence.  And last month, he received the top award for the Marriott Worldwide Business Councils, renamed the Stephen G. Marriott Leadership Award.

Stephen was also active in his community, serving on the Washington Council of the Boy Scouts of America and various boards representing people with disabilities, including the American Foundation for the Blind, which named him a recipient of the Helen Keller Achievement Award in 2008.  He served on the board of the American Speech, Hearing and Language Association Foundation and the National Institutes of Deafness and Communication Disorders.  He also served on family foundations, including the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation and the Marriott Foundation for People With Disabilities.

Stephen also supported his college through the BYU Marriott School of Management Alumni Board and the BYU Management Society, Washington, D.C., Chapter.

He was an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  When he was 19, he served a mission for two years in British Columbia, and held a number of church positions throughout his life.  I know how much his faith fortified him during his illness.

He was a master teacher.  He taught sales school for the company for many years and Sunday school for at least 15 years.  I recall his writing the names on the blackboard of the 12 Tribes of Israel in a Sunday school lesson.  He wrote them down from memory.  I asked him, “How in the world can you remember all those names?”  He said he’d learned them in high school at St. Albans and always remembered them.

Donna and I are so proud of him, as are his brothers, John and David, and his sister, Debbie.  We are so grateful to Julie, who has given him such wonderful support for 32 years.  And we’re proud of their three wonderful children, Jennifer, Ashley, Blake, and five grandchildren.  We know Stephen has earned a special spot in heaven, and we will miss him deeply.  -- Bill Marriott

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You had a wonderful son and your tribute to him was so loving.I wish his family all the luck in the world and thank God for such good human beings like yourselves.


Good day
I'm deeply touched by this story, thank you so much for sharing.
Apart from all the amazing achievements of your son, I must confess that the Journey into scouting sealed the deal for me!!! As an entrepreneur in my early days, I'm also needing to draw on my strengths from my own scouting career in South Africa.
Continue enjoying a blessed day.
Martin Albertus
Sustainable Ways Pty Ltd

Mr. Marriott,

This was such a beautiful tribute and I just wanted to thank you for writing about it openly and sharing it.

My kids and I have a disorder called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. My 16 year old daughter has already had 15 surgeries. My 10 year old son has had one and he is about to have his second spinal surgery in February.

They think my daughter has a mild mitochondrial deletion as well and possibly my son and there is much debate in our community of mitochondrial disease and EDS being related or if mitochondrial dysfunction is acquired due to the damage from EDS. As of now, we just fight to manage and maintain a good quality of life for both our kids.

Although we live in the Boston, MA area, there are very few specialists able to do her surgeries and then manage her medically because of her energy issues post surgeries. We spend quite a bit of time on the road and I've always stayed at Marriott because we accumulate points and every bit helps. Now, I'm thrilled we have chosen the Marriott because as you know, families of chronic and rare disease form our own families and like to support each other.

Kudos to you and your family and to Stephen's legacy. My 16 year old sounds a lot like him. She has fought for and had very debatable surgeries all for improving her quality of life and being able to live. She knows a cure is unlikely but just wants to be able to live her life to the fullest and as long as she can. She doesn't let her life define her. She too, like you, has started her own blog site. It's It would make her day if she got a comment from you on that site if you ever have time to look at it.

In the meantime, keep on blogging... There is so much more to life than the superficial things... it truly is about all the stories of life, love, and helping others.

Aurora Stipnieks

Hello, I did not know Stephen but I have Mitochondrial Disorder and hope one day through research they find a treatment to substation life and find a cure. I read about him and his spirit is enlightening. Nobody should lose a child so my thoughts and prayers go out to your family. He seems to have brought love, happiness in the family and wonderful memories that will last inside you and around you for ever. I am going to host a Mito event in 2015 and what better place to have it than in one of your hotels I will be inspired through his memory as I put together. I hope I can make it a success, I want to make it a yearly. God bless your family. I pray we find a cure, my hearts breaks each time we lose someone to this disease. I admire strength thank you for Sharing his story.

Elaine Chittick

Dear Brother and Sister Marriott:
I was reading a story about the new Marriott in Manhattan and
it reminded me of the first Marriott opened in Atlanta, Ga,
sometime between Nov 1963-Nov 1965, while I was there on my Mission.
I did not know about your son Stephen and want to express my
condolences to you and your family. He sounds like a wonderful
We live in a small town in Southern Missouri, and we have lived
here for 34 years. We had eight children and lost three of
them between May, 1980, and June 1993. Our living children are
heros, and all are doing well. My two oldest sons are pilots for
JetBlue, (I spent 45 years in the airline industry) and my
youngest son is a Urologist in Columbia, Missouri.
Thank you for being such a good example around the world and
for the years of service in your church callings!


Bob Hoyt
Monett, Missouri

I just heard about Stephen. I sort of lost track of this awesome family when I moved away from DC. I knew Stephen as a teenager while hanging out with Debbie. It is wonderful to see how friends develop their lives and the accomplishments and also the challenges they face. After reading this blog I am more sad that I did not know Stephen as an adult. My thoughts and prayers to your family.-Alan Sanders

Always remember The Spirit Never Dies.

Dear Marriott family can I just say what a wonderful son you both raised and I feel your pain how sad that he passed away but what a great life he had filling in every second of the day. There are able bodied people who do nothing with their lives we all have wings but some of us don't know why.

He was a credit to his family and his legacy will live on in his children and grandchildren celebrate his life you will see him again very soon

god bless


To the Marriott Family,

I am so sorry for your loss. Our prayers go out to you and your entire family. Grieve, Cry and remember the good times always,


Linda Mauch & family

I read the memory of your son Stephen and felt warmth and it gave me strength. I visited one of your hotels with my own seventeen year old son last week. Your Blog, about your son, reminded me of my bond with my son and the importance and strength of family. I wish you well wherever you all may be.

Tony Clamp

I am so sorry to hear about your son, I had the pleasure of working with him at Mountain Shadows in the 1980's he was in training, such a nice person regards to all the family

Dear Marriott family:
I offer prayer and condolences.
I am a U.S. soldier in the Army Chaplain Corps. What I have read today has blessed me greatly. Your son's testimony is an incredible example of GOD'S grace and infinitey perfect Love.
GOD Bless you!
Very respectfully,
"Nothing can separate us from GOD'S Love!"

On the behalf of myself and my team at the pizza Shack(St.Kitts), we would like to extend our heartfelt sympathies to the Marriott family, extended, business, and associates in mourning.
It is never easy losing a loved one, but we pray god will give you added strength to cope with the loss of your son Stephen.
We all leave this world at some time, but it is always too soon when a loved one dies.
Once again, we pray god's blessing upon you and your families.


Daphne Brade/Pizza Shack Team

Barbara and I are very sorry to read about the lose of your son Stephen. Please accept our prayers. Richard & Barbara Nye

Dear Marriott Family,

My heartfelt condolences on the loss of your son, Stephen. I am so grateful for his work representing people with disabilities. I work at headquarters and just learned, a few months ago, that our 7 year-old son, Benjamin, has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Our heartache is so great, but he is such a brave boy and doesn't let his disability phase him. I so admire the example set by Stephen and hope to inspire my son to reach for his dreams as well.

Kindest regards,
Jennifer Wilkerson

Bill and Donna, Please accept our sincere condolences on the loss of your wonderful son. We all know that he is in a truly better place.

thats sad..

Dear Sir, I can't even find the right words o express my sadness. I have been diagnosed with a lifetime diseases with no cure before it turns to cancer or delays it. During my stay at the hospital I have seen the worry and hopes in my parents eyes and I heard them speak about how they can live if something happens to me... but Sir life goes on..I pray to God to allow me to live long enough to see my wonderful 12 year son grow a Mom that is what I wish before I die.. I got to this blog by accident as I wanted to look up some Hotel business ideas...I think GOD wanted me to read what you wrote about your son..there is a reason for everything Sir...and GOD is the only one who will decide the time for us. again my condolences to you all. I am a citizen of Turkey. Just wanted to say that because the pain is always the same no matter what nationality we are...I think just like you were fortunate to have Stephen as your son he was fortunate to have you as his Dad.

Mr. Marriott- I am so touched by your loss and your willingness to share your feelings. I wish you and your family the vary best in your times of sorrow.


I am so sorry for your lost. My prayers to you and the family. I am currently on activie duty as a Supply Corps Officer stationed in Arlington and wanted to reach out and express my sysmpathies.

Our family sends our thoughts and prayer during this difficult time. Draw strength from knowing others care about you.
Denise & Bob

Hard to imagine the loss of a child. Condolences to you and you family Bill.

So sorry for your loss. You and family are in my prayers. What a fantastic guy!

Mr.& Mrs. Bill Marriott, my condolences goes out to the Marriott entire Family. I have been employed with Marriott for 30yrs. I have known your Dad, yourself, and Stephen for a very long time. I remember when you used to bring Stephen to LSU in New Orleans. You were a faithful, loving, and caring dad to your son. Stephen lived a Wonderful Life, one I could only imagine of.GOD makes no mistakes and it was time for his ANGEL TO RETURN HOME. My MOM told me that no Parent should bury their child, so I know the hurt everyone feels. Just hold on to GOD's unchanging hands and know that GOD is in control. GOD gives us nothing we cant't handle. A Very Dedicated Employee.

My prayers are with you and your family. Your Son is an inspiration to all of us. May beautiful memories and your faith keep you strong during this difficult time.