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Eldest son of Bill Marriott dies after battle with degenerative mitochondrial disease

In this 2004 file photo, Stephen Marriott, David Marriott, then-Chairman and CEO of Marriott International Bill Marriott and John Marriott (l-r) sit in pajamas and robes as part of a new bedding promotion. Stephen Garff Marriott, the executive vice presid
In this 2004 file photo, Stephen Marriott, David Marriott, then-Chairman and CEO of Marriott International Bill Marriott and John Marriott (l-r) sit in pajamas and robes as part of a new bedding promotion. Stephen Garff Marriott, the executive vice president for culture at Marriott International, has died after a long battle with a degenerative mitochondrial disease, the family announced Sunday.
Matt Houston, Associated Press

Stephen Garff Marriott, the executive vice president for culture at Marriott International, has died after a long battle with a degenerative mitochondrial disease, the family announced Sunday.

He was 54 years old.

"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," his father Bill Marriott said. "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."

Marriott's grandparents founded the international hotel company in 1927, and he began working with the company as a cook in 1975. While attending Brigham Young University, he worked in positions ranging from the front desk to housekeeping, marketing and accounting.

Marriott served a two-year mission in British Columbia for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and graduated from BYU in 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts in English before earning a master's degree in Business Administration from Arizona State University.

During his lifetime, Marriott worked with various groups representing people with disabilities, including the American Foundation for the Blind, the American Speech, Hearing and Language Association Foundation, the National Institutes of Deafness and Communication Disorders, Hospice Caring, D.C. College Access Program, the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation and the Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities.