George Cyrus Jr., 65, a lifelong Evanston resident and local housing developer and real estate agent, died Friday night.

Cyrus, of 3200 Park Place, joined his father’s firm, Cyrus Realtors, in the 1950s. He became president of the firm in 1967 and along with former high school classmate Walter Kihm Jr. grew the business into one of the leading real estate companies in the metro area.

Evanton Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jonathan Perman said Cyrus “defined what it meant to be a business leader.”

He said Cyrus, who served at least four terms on the chamber’s board, “was involved in so many facets of Evanston, providing wise counsel, serving on boards, providing financial resources and most of all contributing to the advancement of this community with his incisive wisdom and his outreach.”

Perman added that in the early 1990s, Cyrus “was perhaps the leading voice of the business community to open up the zoning envelope in downtown Evanston and permit denser mixed-use development near transit stations.”

“George understood, long before many others did, that to have a thriving and vital downtown, a city like Evanston needed to create a local customer base that would patronize the local stores and restaurants.” Permans said.

As a developer, Cyrus built a variety of multi-family housing projects in Evanston from moderately-priced apartments to larger, profusely landscaped, court-type apartment buildings with underground garages which became distinctly known as “Cyrus-built” Evanston apartment residences.

Cyrus was active with the North Shore Board of Realtors, and served as president of the Mental Health Association of Evanston.  He also was on the boards of the Evanston Historical Society, Evanston Symphony, Northlight Theatre, Youth Job Center, and Youth Organizations Umbrella (YOU).

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 13, at Trinity Lutheran Church, 3637 Golf Rd. in Evanston.

In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the Youth Organizations Umbrella, 1027 Sherman Ave., Family Focus, 2010 Dewey Ave. or the Youth Job Center of Evanston, 1114 Church St.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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