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Jim Tyree’s passing comes much too soon

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM


O UR HEARTS ARE heavy here at the Sun-Times since hearing the sad news on Wednesday afternoon, that our beloved boss and savior, Jim Tyree, passed away after his long and valiant battle with stomach cancer.

CHICAGO has lost one of its finest businessmen/philanthropist and civic servant and leader this town has been fortunate to have in our midst and a true Chicago treasure. He not only was the head of the group who purchased this paper when we were on the ropes but also headed up the powerful Mesirow Financial.

One of his dear friends, retired broadcaster Warner Saunders, was devastated to hear the news and said to me, “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,” said Saunders.

Our deepest condolences to his wife, Eve, and family . . . he left us much too soon.

THE SCOOP: THE BRILLIANT AND multitalented media giant Tavis Smiley, who is also the founder of SmileyBooks publishing, was in town on Tuesday to meet with R&B superstar/songwriter R. Kelly at his suburban home and to work on the manuscript for Kelly’s upcoming debut book on his life titled Soulacoaster: The Diary of Me, due out this fall. Smiley was accompanied here by the book’s co-author David Ritz, who’s best known for writing the autobiographies for music legends Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, just to name a few. Also, Ritz co-wrote my favorite Gaye song, “Sexual Healing.” Yeah, baby!

I caught up with Smiley by phone while he was here and luckily for him, his dear friend, Aretha Franklin, just happened to be visiting Chi-Town as well, so they got together for lunch at their favorite eatery, the fabulous RL, where the cool people eat and greet. He mentioned that he hadn’t seen her in a while and that the much-slimmer Aretha looked absolutely amazing and was wearing a beautiful red jacket and that they would be going to the Bulls game that evening . . . which they did.

Not only is Tavis thrilled that his publishing company has snared Kelly, but he is also ecstatic over the news that his author Iyanla Vanzant’s new book Peace from Broken Pieces is now No. 1 on the New York Times best-sellers list. I mentioned that I saw Vanzant’s revealing interview recently on Oprah and he responded, “I’m confident that something good for Iyanla will come from those appearances on Oprah.” And I said, “The Oprah factor definitely made it No. 1.” “Iyanla is No. 1 at the moment, and I fully expect that R. Kelly will be No. 1 later this year,” Smiley said.

The handsome bachelor, who started his publishing empire in 2004 and has published noted authors including Dr. Cornel West, historian Henry Louis Gates and local retired advertising genius Tom Burrell’s new book, Brainwash, will be back in town May 19-20 to promote his 15th book, Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure. Whew! TS is no joke . . . between writing his many best-selling books, TV/radio shows, motivational seminars/speeches, traveling, etc., it’s understandable why he is still single, ladies! By the way, he has great taste, as well, he told me he always reads my column to find out what’s happening in Chi-Town. Like I said, “He’s brilliant!”

CHICAGO’S Francine Manilow, owner of Manilow Suites, is auctioning off the priceless opportunity to throw out the first pitch at the April 11 White Sox-vs.-Oakland home game plus two top-drawer seats and a two-night stay at one of her luxury suites. All proceeds from the winning bid will benefit the Women’s Business Development Center and Enterprising Women Foundation. More info:

THE BEARS’ Lovie Smith and Greg Olsen, Channel 7’s Jim Rose, Channel 26’s Kenny McReynolds, Ernie Banks and V-103’s Ramonski Luv will be judging the McDonald’s All American 2011 Powerade Jam Fest at Chicago State Universty March 28 . . . Congrats to Rev. Jesse Jackson, who will visit Ireland March 22 to pick up an honorary Life Membership to the University College Dublin Law Society and will speak. Also, his son Yusef Jackson and wife, Amaya, had a baby boy, Cassius, on Tuesday.

LOCAL FILM: “The Truth” is a short film shot entirely in the Windy City and directed by actor Hill (“CSI:NY”) Harper and starring Rockmond (“Prison Break”) Dunbar. And the two local executive producers — attorney Randy Crumpton and promoter Kenny Johnson — will host a post-production party Saturday at The Vibe nightclub, and cast members Mel (“Soul Food”) Jackson and vocalist Terisa Griffin will be on hand.

BIRTHDAY PEOPLE: Toni Preckwinkle and Jacqueline (The Rev. Jesse) Jackson. Friday: Tom Burrell, TV’s Rich King, Georges (Kiki “Bistro”) Cuisance. and anniversary wishes (60) to Robert & Gwendolyn Mayes. Saturday: Richie (Zanies) Uchwat . Sunday: Joel Weisman. Monday: Jim Covert.

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