John Willard Marriott was born to Hyrum Willard Marriott and Ellen Morris at Marriott Settlement, Utah, September 17, 1900. He was the second of eight children and spent his early years helping with the family sheep ranching business. In 1918 he left for Connecticut and Vermont to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Mr. Marriott purchased the rights to sell Allen and Wright (A & W) root beer in Washington, D.C., and on May 20, 1927, he opened a root beer stand with Hugh Colton. A few weeks later he traveled back to Salt Lake City to marry Alice Sheets, June 9, 1927, in the Salt Lake Temple.
The Marriotts' first child, J. Willard Marriott, Jr., was born in 1932. By 1934 the corporation had added drive-in restaurants with “running boys” that provided customers with in-car service.
In the 1940s and 1950s, the corporation built several new restaurants and opened numerous industrial, defense plant, and school cafeterias.
The company continued to grow under Mr. Marriott's control until 1964, when he turned over the company presidency to his son, J. Willard Marriott, Jr. Mr. Marriott continued to be heavily involved with the corporation as chairman of the board.
Mr. Marriott was actively involved in religious, academic, political, and community organizations throughout his life.
Mr. Marriott died of a heart attack on August 13, 1985, at his summer home in New Hampshire.
- Biography of John Willard Marriott Sr. University of Utah