Choice Hotels International founder and former CEO Stewart Bainum Sr. died on Wednesday. He was 94.
In the early 1960s, Bainum, a former plumbing contractor, franchised his first motel with Quality Courts, a company that began in 1939 as a cooperative of seven southeastern U.S. motels.
By the end of the decade, Bainum owned five Quality Courts motels under the name Park Consolidated Motels. In 1968, Bainum merged Park Consolidated with Quality Courts, and moved the company's headquarters from Florida to Maryland. He became president and CEO.
Bainum also launched a nursing home business, Manor Care, in the 1960s. In 1980, Bainum merged Manor Care with the motel business (then known as Quality Inns International), operating them as separate subsidiaries.
The hotel company grew largely through the expansion of its Quality Inn brand. Comfort Inn, which would go on to become Choice's largest brand, launched in 1981. In the 1980s, other brands were added, including Sleep Inn and Clarion.
The company became Choice Hotels International in 1990. It was spun off from Manor Care in 1996 and went public. Bainum retired from the company’s board two years later.
“I am honored to lead Choice Hotels and honor Stewart’s legacy,” Choice Hotels CEO Stephen Joyce said in a statement Wednesday. “He will be missed by the many lives he touched.”
His son, Stewart Bainum Jr., remains on Choice Hotels' board of directors.