There are many words that describe Jim Tyree including husband, father, friend, leader, visionary, humanitarian and fighter.
Jim Tyree grew up on the South Side of Chicago in the Beverly neighborhood. He lived in Chicago with Eve, his wife of 15 years; their daughter, Jessica; and twin sons, Matthew and Joseph. A proud and devoted dad, in 2010, Jim was honored by the American Diabetes Association as a "Father of the Year." There was nothing Jim enjoyed more than spending time with his family and friends. In his home in Chicago or the beach house in Indiana; at local restaurants or watering holes; entertaining his kids on the lakefront; or going to Sox, Bulls, Bears and Blackhawks games, Jim enriched the lives of so many.
Jim's entire professional career was with Mesirow Financial. He joined the firm in 1980 as a research associate and quickly rose through the ranks to be named president in 1990, chief executive officer in 1992, and chairman and chief executive officer in 1994. During his tenure as CEO, Jim led Mesirow Financial to exceptional levels of growth in all areas of the business.
Throughout his career, Jim served on more than 50 corporate, civic and not-for-profit boards of directors. He was the Chairman of Sun-Times Media Holdings, a media firm that publishes 58 newspapers and corresponding websites, including The Chicago Sun-Times. Jim was Chairman of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and The Executives’ Club of Chicago. He also was a member of The Civic Committee of The Commercial Club of Chicago, The Economic Club of Chicago, University of Chicago Medical Center, Illinois State University Foundation, Illinois Institute of Technology, Illinois Education Foundation, Big Shoulders Fund and Uhlich Children's Advantage Network (UCAN).
In 2010, Jim completed a 10- year appointment by Mayor Daley as chairman of the board of City Colleges of Chicago, an organization with seven colleges and more than 121,000 students.
Jim was a tireless advocate for the community and participated in numerous organizations in support of health care, education and children - work that continues through the James Tyree Foundation.
As a juvenile diabetic himself, he served determinedly for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). He was on the International board and served as chairman from 2006 to 2008. He held various leadership positions with JDRF’s Illinois Chapter and was a member-at-large of its executive committee, a life member of its board of directors and was named the organization’s 2004 Person of the Year.
You could always find Jim at a ringside table in support of Mercy Home for Boys and Girls or at other charitable events throughout the city. In addition to many other honors, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by The Association for Corporate Growth Chicago, the Spirit of Erikson Institute Award, the Distinguished Alumni Award by Illinois State University, the Mary Potter Humanitarian Award by the Little Company of Mary Hospital, the Youth Advocacy Award by the Uhlich Children’s Advantage Network, the Civic Leadership Award by the American Jewish Committee and Jim accepted The Children’s Place Association "Chicago Champion for Children" award.
Jim never quit. There wasn't a battle that he could not win. Growing up in a modest home on the South Side of Chicago, Jim was the youngest son of a hardworking mother. Jim loved and played sports but also worked at a very young age to help his family make ends meet. He sought ways to educate himself and make it through college. He not only earned a Bachelor's Degree while at Illinois State, he also earned his MBA and successfully passed the CPA exam.
When he was diagnosed with diabetes in his 20’s, Jim decided he needed to take on this awful disease so he raised money and awareness through his work with JDRF. When his kidneys began to fail, he didn’t give up. Instead, he searched for a solution that ultimately resulted in a kidney and pancreas transplant making him free from insulin injections and blood sugar swings.
He fought for his family, friends, business and the things he believed in with great passion, energy and humility.
View some of Jim's key accomplishments.
Quotes About Jim
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. President Barack Obama
Jim was well known as both a business leader and a civic-minded Chicagoan who always gave back to the community. His service as board chairman of City Colleges, his work with non-profit organizations like the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and his investment in the Sun-Times made him a pillar of our city's civic life. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel
Mr. Tyree is a model for living. It wasn’t what he said but the way he lived his life that was so inspirational. Rev. Scott Donahue, CEO of the Mercy Homes for Boys and GirlsView more quotes about Jim...
Jim was a great friend to so many. One of a kind, an amazing leader. Richard Price, Chairman and CEO, Mesirow Financial
Jim was always competitive. He didn’t like to lose, and he didn’t like to pass. He was fearless and wasn’t afraid to be silly. He made you feel important. He made us all feel like family. Tom Finn, Partner, Leahy Eisenberg Frankel
Jim was the most loyal friend a person could have. Jim has proven himself to be a dynamic leader, an astute businessman and one of the biggest Chicago sports fans in town, particularly the White Sox. Larry Richman, CEO of The PrivateBancorp Inc.
He was a guy from the South Side who knew everybody had to start somehwere, and he loved being around the small-business people. Gerry Roper, President and CEO of Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
He was someone who if he gave you his hand, you didn't need it in writing. W. Rockwell "Rocky" Wirtz, Chairman of the Chicago Blackhawks
Jim Tyree was a wonderful Chicagoan and a dutiful civic leader who gave liberally of his time to improve the lives of others. He was a mentor to the students and a strong example of what can happen through hard work and perseverance. Former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley
What sets Jim apart from other CEOs was his ability to connect with people at every level of the organization. It didn’t matter where you were on the organizational chart. If Jim knew you, he was your friend. He was a mentor to countless people both inside and outside the firm and truly cared about their success. Julie Vander Weele, Mesirow Financial
He was a man committed to the community, the city, to business, to education and just a gift to the city. Hedy Ratner, co-president of the Women's Business Development Center
The amazing thing about Jim was no matter what personal crisis he was facing in his life, he always managed to have a smile on his face and stay totally involved in those causes he thought important. Jayne Thompson, former Illinois first lady and current board president of the Chicago Public Library
Jim Tyree was a friend to all. Jim was a true leader with an unending commitment to the business and media communities, as well as an unmatched sense of civic pride. And he did it all with humor and a humbleness that made him the great man he was. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn
He was a tireless advocate and fund-raiser. Patrick Reedy, Executive Director of JDRF Illinois Chapter
Jim was a kind and gentle giant, who used his enormous power for the good of the people of Chicago. Jim did not just give money to charitable causes...he gave of himself. Warner Saunders, retired broadcaster
As long as we had the truth on our side, Tyree was on our side. John Barron, Publisher Chicago Sun-Times
Jim was one of the nicest, friendliest, smartest people I know. I've never heard anyone who had a bad thing to say about him. Jim loved Chicago, and he and his wife, Eve, certainly loved their White Sox. Jerry Reinsdorf, Chairman, White Sox and Bulls
Jim was a contemporary embodiment of Chicago as a city of big shoulders. Not only a giant in his own industry, but someone willing to stand up to ensure that we remained a two-newspaper city. Christie Hefner, former CEO of Playboy Enterprises