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Marriott Int'l CEO Arne Sorenson unexpectedly dies of cancer

The Marriott Grand Hotel is pictured in downtown St. Louis, Mo., on April 1, 2020. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
The Marriott Grand Hotel is pictured in downtown St. Louis, Mo., on April 1, 2020. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Marriott International President and CEO Arne Sorenson has died at the age of 62 after undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer, the company said Tuesday.

Sorenson in 2012 became the hotel chain's first CEO without the Marriott surname.

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Marriott said in a statement that Sorenson died unexpectedly on Monday. It did not identify a specific cause of death.

Sorenson succeeded J.W. "Bill" Marriott Jr. as just the chain's third chief executive since it was founded in 1927 by J. Willard Marriott, who was the first.

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Marriott called Sorenson "a visionary leader" who "put the company on a strong growth trajectory."

Sorenson is credited with turning Marriott into the world's largest hotel chain after securing a $13 billon deal to acquire Starwood Hotels & Resorts about five years ago.

With Starwood, Marriott expanded to include the Ritz-Carlton, W Hotels, Westin and Sheraton hotel brands in more than 100 countries.

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"The world's largest hotel company loses a leader of vision and achievement," Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, tweeted. "But Arne was not only a brilliant executive, he was also a fundamentally good person."

Sorenson was born in Japan and grew up in Minnesota. He graduated from Luther College in Iowa in 1980 and later earned a law degree from the University of Minnesota.

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He met Bill Marriott while a partner at Latham & Watkins in Washington, D.C., and was persuaded to join the hotel business as associate general counsel.

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"Arne was an exceptional executive -- but more than that -- he was an exceptional human being," Executive Chairman J.W. Marriott Jr. said in a statement. "We will miss Arne deeply."

Marriott said earlier this month that it assigned two executives to take over day-to-day operations so that Sorenson, who was diagnosed with stage 2 pancreatic cancer in 2019, could receive treatment.

The company said it expects to name a new CEO within the next two weeks.

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