William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil, owner of the Biltmore Company, the business behind the Biltmore Estate, died in October at age 89. Cecil was the grandson of George Washington Vanderbilt III, who built the estate. Having studied abroad and launched a career in finance, Cecil returned to Asheville when the estate was losing $250,000 a day. Against all advice, he worked toward his vision of supporting conservation as a private enterprise. Willing to work in all phases of promotion and often pouring his own money into his labor of love, he oversaw the Biltmore House being designated a National Historic Landmark in 1963, and he realized a profit of $16.34 in 1969. Following investment in tourism, hospitality, agriculture, winemaking, and product licensing; the estate has grown to become one of the area’s largest employers, with 1.4 million visitors annually. For his efforts Cecil was made president of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and the North Carolina Travel Council, and Chair of the Southern Highlands Attractions Association, among many other distinctions. He retired from daily management of the estate in 1995, but continued to serve as chairman of the board.