The son of a Norwegian immigrant, Conrad Hilton was born in 1887. He began his famous career by renting out rooms in the San Antonio, New Mexico, adobe house in which he was born, while he traveled as a salesman. He tried his hand at a variety of positions until he became cashier of a bank. His shrewd and successful organizational methods proved valuable there, and he soon formed the New Mexico State Bank of San Antonio, becoming its president two years later.
Hilton entered the hotel business in 1919, taking over a small hotel in Cisco, Texas. For the next 20 years he bought, sold, and built hotels throughout Texas, and eventually, his company became a global leader in the hospitality industry. He served as a representative in the first legislature when New Mexico became a state in 1912. He was awarded several honorary degrees, as well as the annual Brotherhood Award and the Freedom Foundation Award.