Jack DeBoer, Residence Inn Founder, Dies at 90

Pioneer of Extended Stay, All-Suite Hotel Concepts Started Fifth Venture at Age 83

A Residence Inn lobby in Baltimore

By Kurt Stolz on 22 March 2021
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Jack DeBoer, the founder of the Residence Inn hotel chain and a pioneer of the extended-stay and all-suite hotel concepts, died on March 12 at the age of 90 after being treated for cancer.

Mr. DeBoer, who began his career at the age of ten selling pansies out of his wagon by going door to door, was born on January 15, 1931 and grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. His parents were in the insurance business. He studied business at the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan, now Michigan State University, and served as a member of the military police at an Army base in North Carolina.  In 1953, he married Marilyn Sanders, whom he had met at his parents’ insurance firm.

After serving in the army, he became an apartment house builder, but ran into financial difficulties and left the industry.

Mr. DeBoer designed and built the first Residence Inn, which was located in downtown Wichita, Kansas, in 1975.  He opened or franchised 103 more Residence Inns before selling the chain to Marriott in 1987.

Over the course of his career, Mr. DeBoer also founded several other hotel chains including Value Place, now Woodspring Hotels, which he started in 2003, Candlewood Suites, now part of InterContinental Hotels Group, which he started in 1995, and Summerfield Suites, an upscale all-suite chain now part of Hyatt, which he started in 1988.

In 2014, Mr. DeBoer founded WaterWalk, a company he described as an all-inclusive apartment brand. Water Walk combined the features of an upscale extended-stay hotel with apartment living.

Mr. DeBoer is survived by his wife, two children, and three grandchildren, as well as by Rolf Ruhfus, who was a foreign exchange student from Germany was hosted by the DeBoer family in the 1960s and who later joined Residence Inns, eventually serving as president.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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