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Celebrating the life of Stephen Garff Marriott

Celebrating the life of Stephen Garff Marriott

Stephen Garff Marriott, Executive Vice President for Culture at Marriott International, the global hotel company founded by his grandparents in 1927, passed away on Sunday, June 23, 2013, after a prolonged battle with a degenerative mitochondrial disease. He was 54 years old.

In his most recent role, Stephen led Marriott Worldwide Business Councils and was responsible for perpetuating Marriott’s core values and culture throughout the company.

His father, Marriott International Executive Chairman J.W. “Bill” Marriott, Jr., said, “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. 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.”

Stephen’s career with the company spanned 38 years, beginning in 1975, when he worked at the Bethesda, Md., Roy Rogers restaurant as a cook. During college, he worked in various positions, ranging from front desk and housekeeping to banquets, marketing and accounting.

After graduation from Brigham Young University in 1983, with a bachelor of arts in English, he earned a master’s degree in business administration from Arizona State University.


In 1985, Stephen became a Sales Manager at the Mountain Shadows Marriott Resort and Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. He worked his way up through sales and hotel operations and became General Manager of the Bethesda Marriott Hotel in 1991.

In 1993, he became Director of Resort Marketing at Marriott Corporate Headquarters in Bethesda, Md., and held various positions as a Vice President in Brand and Marketing. In 2000, he became Senior Vice President of Culture and Lodging Sales Recruiting and was an instructor in Marriott’s Sales Schools. Stephen was appointed to his current position as Executive Vice President of Culture in 2006.

Since 1996, Stephen chaired Marriott’s Worldwide Business Councils, which promotes company culture, community service and public policy. In May 2013, in recognition of his dedicated leadership, he received the Business Councils’ top award, which was named the Stephen G. Marriott Leadership Award in his honor. Other company awards included The Culture and Sales Achievement Award and The J. Willard Marriott Award of Excellence.

Stephen was an Eagle Scout and served on the National Capital Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. The Scout’s dining hall at Camp Snyder was named for him.

He served on various boards representing people with disabilities. He was on the board of directors for the American Foundation for the Blind, which named him a recipient of the Helen Keller Achievement Award in 2008. He also served on the board of directors of the American Speech, Hearing and Language Association Foundation, and the National Institutes of Deafness and Communication Disorders. He served on the board of trustees for Hospice Caring and on the board of advisors for the D.C. College Access Program.

Until his death, Stephen served on The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation Board and on the board of the Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities. He also supported his college through the BYU Marriott School of Management Alumni Board and the BYU Management Society, Washington, D.C. Chapter. He was a native Washingtonian and attended St. Albans School.

Stephen was a faithful and active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served a two-year mission in British Columbia when he was 19, and served in many church positions for most of his life. His interests included Church, family, BYU sports and he loved to teach. He is survived by his wife Juliana Baughman Marriott and their children Stephen Blake; Jennifer and her husband, Bob Jackson; Ashley and her husband, Spencer Samuelian; five adored grandchildren; his parents, Bill and Donna Marriott; his brothers, John and David; and his sister Debbie Marriott Harrison.