Remembering My Mom on Mother's Day

May 8, 2015


mom and me 1936
Mom & me, 1936

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.

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Dear Mr. Bill Marriott,
Thank you for telling us the story of your mother that has excited me a lot. I've even had tears.
I am an associate of your company in Spain that, after doing the training in Bridge, I explain the history of Marriott in the induction training to the new employees of the hotel.
I always mention that Marriott begins with a love story drawing on the flipchart a heart with the name of your parents. Your story has enchanted me because the history of my parents has a certain similarity with yours, Let me explain briefly.
My parents were married in the 50's of the last century and dedicated their lives to the hospitality industry . At first my father was a fisherman and my mother was a housewife but in a few years they built a small building on my grandfather's small piece of land and set up a bar that was transformed with the effort of the whole family in a famous restaurant, currently managed by my brother. The process was not simple, the initial bar was added catering services (my mother was the cook) and hostel for accommodation.
The best legacy our parents have left to my brother, my twin sister and me is the culture of effort and the exquisite customer service, which is certainly what I think has made Marriott so great.
In Induction sessions I transmit Marriot values to the new associates . In addition to that I tell them others values: love, effort, tencity, respect and much generosity that I think they were your mother values. They are also the values that I have lived since childhood in my family. Effectively LOVE CAN DO IT ALL
A very cordial greeting and thanks again.
By the way, your mother was very beautiful!

María del Mar Guasch

very nice article i loved reading it thanks for sharing this story

Dear Mr. Marriott:

I landed my first job in the USA at the Tampa Airport Marriott in Florida and to this day I am still with the Marriott family. Tampa Airport Marriott to be exact and you know why? Because I felt the love and inclusion the minute I started to work there. We had several classes on diversity and this allows me to appreciate everyone even more as we are different but unique in our own skin and talents and that makes the perfect family at the Marriott.

My Mom was a very hard worker also who took care of the family so even though your story is a little different, however it was Mom who kept the family together doing and everything for survival.

My mom passed in 2011 and I missed her dearly. Moms are the best.

Wonderful tribute to a woman who was obviously an inspiration to all who knew her. Thanks for sharing your cherished memories! Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers in your life and to those who read this.

Martha Bolton

The "Love" that comes from a great mom, causes her to go "above and beyond" in honor and service!


Cool Beans, Moms are the closes being to God!

Dear Bill Marriott,

I have enjoyed working for the hotels that was built with your lovely family memories. When I first moved away from a small town in Wyoming to the big City in Colorado I had a terrible time finding a job, and missed my family very much. It was a rough spot at the beginning but eventually I found my place at the Towneplace by Marriott. I had some past work history experience at hotels and fit in perfectly. I loved the professionalism but I built family in the workplace it didn't replace my family I left in Wyoming; however, I started to enjoy my life in Colorado. After 3 years of working at that facility I grew up and learned a lot. I learned about leadership ,dedication ,endurance and many more. After awhile I decided to move back to my little town in Wyoming. I was very sad that I couldn't take my Marriott hotel back with me with all the wonderful employees and guests I grew to love. With Towneplace hotels since they were extended stay we had a lot of guests that stayed months upon months that I felt were family. We had terrible fires that caused many of our guests to come to the hotel with the thought of losing everything. They lost there home and everything in it. I remember seeing guests supporting other guests and the passion and love people brought when they needed it the most. I lived in my small town back in Wyoming for 2 years after Colorado missing that family I left. Keeping busy going to college finishing up things and I see a Fairfield by Marriott being built in my small town. I couldn't believe my eyes. I have a lot of passion for Marriott hotels. I feel the employees truly love there job because the employers treat them with respect and appreciation. I went to that hotel and applied even with all the chaos in my life I wanted to make room to work for the Marriott brand that I grew to love. I was offered the job because they saw the passion I have for this company. Its my second week here and I can already feel that I'm gaining another family with the company I love. Thank you Mr. Marriott for showing what a true role model should be like and treating your employees with the respect and appreciation that everyone in life deserves. I admire your mother for how she raised you and showed the love for people.

Dear Mr Marriott,

I am writing to express my deep admiration for your personal and professional experience.
I have just applied for a position in one of your hotels and of course wanting to have my "homework" done I started informing myself about the hotel. I have came across your blog and I was very impressed by what I read.
Mr Marriott I would like to address you a personal question and I hope it does not sound inappropriate: do you believe in God?

Thank you for your time reading my humble comment!

Best regards,
Adriana Vieru

She sounds like a remarkable woman and a very pretty one too.

Your mom did not like dark gravy . She loved orange that is why the original hotels had a lot of orange and when they come to the hotel to eat the only thing special think done for them was her orange sweater and a black purse set at the table

I made Bills birthday cake at the camelback each year he celebrated it there. They were a loving couple and had a family they could be proud of It was my pleasure knowing them all.

Remember David and his skate board he would bring it in to the Navajo Dinning room and set it up against the wall.

The Marriott Hotels are the greatest. Mr. Marriott always said the people that come in to the hotels are guest just like they would be in my home . pleasure knowing them

This Mothers Day was a very strange one for me the first one in 63 years without my Mom she had passed in Jan. Her leaving this earth has left a big hole in my life . I feel extremely lucky to have had her as long as I did . She was the kindest human being I've ever known or ever will know. She always gave to others before herself. She left this earth with seven strong independent individuals that she raised to know and do right from wrong. We always came first to Mom . In the end she always came first with us. A true sign she had done her job right .

I love your blog about mother. Every mother or mothers' story are always so touching. I love how devoted you are to your family and our associate. That is why I love Marriott!

My Mother passed on her birthday in 2002. I missed her as if she was her with me now. She too, was a proud, loving and understanding Mom. As we approached Mother's Day 2016, I would like to extend a Happy Mother's Day to all Mothers. I will continue to honor my memories of my Mother and continue in my walk to be a great Mom as well.
Mr. Marriott thank you for being graceful and honorable.

Dear Bill Marriott,
I enjoyed reading your beautiful tribute to your mother. She sounds like an amazing woman, very resourceful and enterprising, a true entrepreneur. I like how she saved the root beer shoppe and began the restaurant based on her skills.
My mother raised 10 kids and she was a joy to us. I miss her more each day. I agree with your philosophy on family first. I also liked reading about the eating dinner together. When I was raising my daughter (who is now 27) my number one priority was having supper together and we did until she finished high school and moved out. That gave us a connection and helped us get to know one another and communicate every day. That also gave us security, knowing we would see each other every day and spend time talking.
I work for the Spring Hill Suites in Green Bay,Wisconsin as a weekend breakfast buffet cook. I started last June of 2015.i love my job there and I want you to know that the customers love the great selection and variety of foods served for breakfast. Most of them say,"it is the best variety I have seen." I always feel proud to work there.
I enjoy reading your personal stories and look forward to finding and buying your book. Have you ever thought about selling your book at the hotels?

Have a good day ! Sincerely, Annie Ranft

Great story! As a woman I appreciate hearing the sotries of other women in business and philanthropy roles.

Mr.Bill Marriott,
Good Morning Sir,
Proud to be a hotelier by taking and getting inspired from your life history.looking great and nice in this pic...
Have a nice day and happy life.

Great post!

As for me I love Mother's Day very very much!
Smartmil Toys

This is a lovely post about your mom. It is already 17 years since my mother died suddenly and I still miss her. She was only 75 years young and it was very unexpected. To be honest better healthcare after her heart attack would most likely have saved her life but the doctor failed to recognise the urgency and suggested she went to hospital three days later! I took her the following day but when we got to hospital and they told me she had by then had three heart attacks within the past 18 hours! Then they finally had her seen by a cardiac surgeon who was furious and said " Why on earth didn't someone get this lady to me sooner?"
Her heart was "shot away" and there was no way to save her. We were broken hearted.
I was going to tell you about one of your hotels but told you about my mother! A good mother give so much love and care as mine did especially for her little disabled girl, me. Mother's are so important. We must always be sure that they know this.

Mr Mariott, a touching and honourable tribute from you in the memory of your truly wonderful mother. So respectful that despite the overwhelming growth and success of the Marriott organisation, you bring thoughts back to family values at this sensitive time. A big mark of respect to all Mothers out there who have shaped the future for their families, children and others in society. Another great reason why Marriott is a brand you can rely upon - integrity, people values and honesty in reflection.

This is beautiful. She sounds like a wonderful mom. You seem to me to be just like her. I'm proud to work for the Marriott.

Happy mother's day for all the family Marriot.

Love this blog. I knew you were a mama's boy. What an inspiration she was.

We will remember her with honor, Mr. Marriott. Thank you and happy Mother's Day to Mrs. Marriott.

Precious photo. Where do the years go. Thank you for sharing. It brings many memories of my mother. Blessings