Alice Sheets Marriott, the co-founder of Marriott Corporation with her
husband, J. Willard Marriott, died Monday, April 17th in Washington,
D.C., of natural causes.
Alice Marriott and her husband, who died in 1985, personified the
American dream. The nine-stool root beer stand they opened in 1927 was
the beginning of Marriott Corporation, one of the world’s leading
Today, there are five separate companies with combined annual sales of
over 20 billion dollars: Marriott International, Inc.; Host Marriott
Corporation; Sodexho Marriott Services; Crestline Capital Corporation;
and Host Marriott Services, which was merged with the Italian company,
Autogrill, last year.
Alice Marriott was born to Alice Taylor and Edwin Spencer Sheets in Salt
Lake City, Utah, on October 19, 1907. In June 1927, at age 19, Alice
Marriott graduated with honours from the University of Utah with a
Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish and as a member of Phi Kappa Phi
Two days after graduation, she married J. Willard Marriott, a University
of Utah graduate she had met the year before. They drove across the
country in a Model-T Ford to Washington, D.C., where Willard Marriott
had just opened a nine-stool A&W root beer stand. She served as
bookkeeper for the business.
Each evening, she would take the day’s receipts to the bank.
With the coming of fall and cool weather, root beer sales dropped off
and the Marriotts looked for new ways to attract customers. Fluent in
Spanish, Alice Marriott talked to the chef at the Mexican Embassy and
came away with recipes for chili con carne and hot tamales. After
practicing for two days in their apartment, the Marriotts added the
spicy food to their menu and renamed their root beer stand “The Hot
Shoppe,” which quickly grew to 65 restaurants.
Even as she was raising her two sons, Alice Marriott continued her
hands-on involvement with the business. In 1957, on the night before the
opening of the company’s first hotel, the Twin Bridges Motor Hotel in
Washington, D.C., Alice. Marriott was up for most of the night helping
to hang pictures in each
of the 365 guest rooms. Today, Marriott International has over 2000
operating units in the United States and 57 other countries and
In addition to her corporate responsibilities, Alice Marriott was active
in many civic, charitable and cultural organizations. She was a trustee
of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and served two
10-year terms on its board and its executive and finance committees. She
also served as a member of the National Arthritis and Musculoskeletal
and Skin Diseases Advisory Council and was on the board of directors of
the Metropolitan Washington chapter of the Arthritis Foundation. She
Foundation’s first Lifetime Achievement Award.
Additionally, Alice Marriott served as chairperson of the President’s
Advisory Committee on the Arts for the Kennedy Center and was a former
member of the Women’s Committee of the National Symphony Orchestra. She
has served on the boards of directors of the Goodwill Industries Guild,
Society, International Neighbors Club, National Advisory Committee for
Children and Youth, Capital Speaker’s Club and the Welcome to Washington
International Club, which she helped found.
In 1974, Alice Marriott was awarded an honorary Doctor of Human Letters
degree from the University of Utah. She received similar recognition
from Mount Vernon College in 1980.
Alice Marriott and her family have been generous benefactors to young
people through their support of several educational institutions.
Endowments have funded the building of the Alice Sheets Marriott Center
for Dance at the University of Utah, as well as the J. Willard and Alice
S. Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young University. The
Marriott family established the Marriott Foundation For People With
Disabilities, which has helped more than 4000 disabled youths enter the
In addition to her two sons, J.W. Marriott, Jr. and Richard E. Marriott,
Alice Marriott is survived by her eight grandchildren and twenty-three