James Tyree, CEO of Chicago-based financial services firm Mesirow Financial, passed away at the age of 53. Tyree is survived by his wife and three children, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

Below is a statement from Mesirow Financial:

With a heavy heart, we are saddened to announce that our leader and friend, Jim Tyree, has passed away. There was an unexpected complication and, after a valiant fight, Jim lost his battle with stomach cancer while surrounded by his loving family.

Jim was truly one-of-a-kind; an amazing leader and great friend to so many. He made an indelible impression on each one of us at Mesirow Financial, and our hearts are broken. We will honor him by continuing his legacy and following the tenets that he taught us. Because of Jim's leadership, he has prepared us well to band together and get through this difficult time.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his entire family.

Below is a statement from President Barack Obama:

Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Jim Tyree. Jim was a quintessential Chicagoan, a South Side kid from humble roots who worked his way to the top but never left the city behind. He was beloved for what he gave back to the city that gave him so much -- from his work with non-profit organizations, to his service on the board of the University of Chicago Medical Center, to his role in giving the Sun Times a new lease on life. He will be sorely missed, but never forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Eve, and their three children in these most difficult of times.

Below is a statement from Illinois Senator Dick Durbin:

Jim Tyree's determination and positive view of life inspired me and all he met. I will never forget Jim walking into my office only a few weeks after a double-organ transplant to tell me he was diabetes-free for the first time in his adult life and urging me to support stem-cell research and diabetes research to spare others the ordeal he had borne. After all his many battles I came to think Jim was indestructible. His passing is a reminder of our ultimate frailty but a testament that a life well-lived endures.

James Tyree joined Mesirow Financial in 1980 after graduating with an MBA from Illinois State University. In 1994, he became the firm's CEO.  During his 30-year career with Mesirow, he helped transform the firm into one of the best run private financial institutions in the country.

I had the pleasure of conducting a phone interview with Mr. Tyree in December 2010; he came across articulate, direct, and highly knowledgeable.

Below are two articles from the past about James Tyree:

A comprehensive article about him from Businessweek, titled 'Baron in the Making'

My interview with him in December 2010