Former Illinois AG Jim Ryan passes away at 76 after several lengthy illnesses, family says

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Former Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan has passed away "peacefully at home" after several lengthy illnesses, his family confirmed Sunday.

Ryan served as the state's AG from 1995 to 2003 and was the GOP nominee for governor in 2002.

Prior to becoming the attorney general, Ryan served 10 years as the DuPage County State's Attorney and was in a private practice before that.

The Chicago-born native endured a string of personal tragedies and challenges in his life, including the deaths of two of his six children, nearly losing his wife of 54 years to a heart attack, beating back cancer three times, as well as recovering from heart surgery, his family said.

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He is survived by his wife, who is also his high school sweetheart, and four children. He also has 11 grandchildren.

"He was a wonderful father and grandfather, who, through example, taught us how to handle life's greatest joys, and most difficult losses, with dignity and grace. For all that he accomplished during his career, he will be most remembered for the way he lived his life. Family, faith, and service to others defines the remarkable life of our father," said Ryan's children when asked about their father.

Ryan's youngest daughter, Anne Marie, died at the age of 12 in 1997 of an undiagnosed brain tumor, family said. His son Patrick also died at the age of 24 in 2007.

RELATED: Jim Ryan honored for work to prevent suicide

The family hosts an annual "Annie Ryan Run" in Elmhurst that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Midwest Children's Brain Tumor Center at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, according to the family. They also have hosted the Patrick Ryan Main Event fundraiser featuring amateur boxing for several years. That event aims to raise money to assist families that have lost loved ones to suicide, the Ryan's said.

"Jim Ryan will forever be known for his strength and dedication to service on behalf of the people of Illinois, even as he faced unimaginable personal tragedy. May his courage and selflessness in the face of adversity serve as inspiration to all," said Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul.

He was 76 years old.
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