From the beginning, Bill Morrissey was destined to work in the hospitality industry.

He was born in Minneapolis and raised in Bloomington, where his first job was cleaning apartments for his uncle. His mother worked at what was then the Thunderbird Hotel; growing up near the airport, Morrissey worked as a cook for the airlines.

“Right away he got a sense of the importance of every position within a hotel or hospitality venue,” said his son, Arthur Morrissey. “Everything pointed him in that direction.”

Bill Morrissey, founder and president of Morrissey Hospitality Companies (MHC), died on April 25 at 61 after a battle with cancer.

After three years in the U.S. Army, Morrissey enrolled in the hospitality program at the University of Minnesota. His first job out of college was with the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Minneapolis, where he rose through the ranks. In the early 1980s, he was recruited to become director of sales at the St. Paul Hotel, which had just undergone an extensive and expensive renovation, making it one of the most luxurious offerings at the time, said Arthur Morrissey, who is MHC’s director of marketing.

Three years later, the recruiters were back at his door, and this time it was the InterContinental Hotels Group, which hired him as the first director of sales and marketing and later the general manager at what was then the new $42 million Scanticon Executive Conference Center and Hotel in Plymouth.

After doing another stint at the St. Paul Hotel, Morrissey in 1995 founded MHC, which focuses on developing, managing and consulting for hotels, restaurants and sports and entertainment venues. He built MHC, which is based in Landmark Towers next door to the St. Paul Hotel, into one of the leading hospitality companies in the Midwest. The company, which operates the St. Paul Hotel and other hotels and resorts throughout the Midwest, has 1,300 employees. Because of his focus and deep experience on the sales side of the hotel business, Morrissey was noted for his ability to sell.

Morrissey, who had lived in Eagan since 1985, was also active on several boards, including the Minnesota Lodging Association, Hospitality Minnesota, the Historic Hotels of America and twice for the St. Paul Convention and Visitors Bureau. He also served on the board of directors for the American Hotel and Lodging Association, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, Meet Minneapolis and Explore Minnesota.

“He truly was Mr. Hospitality in all senses of the word,” said Kris Taylor, a friend and vice president of community relations for St. Paul-based Ecolab. “St. Paul lost a good friend and advocate.”

In his free time, Morrissey loved traveling — from Madden’s Resort near Brainerd to the aqua waters of St. John in the Caribbean. When it came to his tastes in lodging, his appreciation was eclectic — ranging from boutique hotels in Wisconsin to the classic, historic hotels such as New York’s Waldorf Astoria.

Aside from spending time with his family and employees, one of his greatest pleasures was watching the city where he spent so much time blossom.

“He loved seeing St. Paul come to life,” said Arthur Morrissey.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Jo. In addition to Arthur, Morrissey is survived by a son, Christopher, and a daughter, Elizabeth, and fiancée, Kimberly Brisson. Services have been held.