Doug Ayers, president and CEO of Keonig & Strey Real Living, has died of cancer, the brokerage announced Friday. He was 50.

Koenig & Strey is an affiliate of HomeServices of America Inc. and has more than 1,000 real estate professionals in the Chicago metro area.

Ayers had a talent for bringing out the best in others, the brokerage said.

"Though real estate was his passion, his gift was the ability to encourage and develop people. He helped us to be better, kinder and more global in our thinking, lessons that reached far beyond real estate," said Nancy Nagy, the brokerage’s senior vice president and interim chief operating officer, in a statement.

Ayers was appointed to head the brokerage in January 2007, after 26 years in the business. Ayers began his real estate career as a sales associate for Burnet Realty in Minneapolis in 1981.  After Coldwell Banker acquired Burnet in 1998, Ayers became president and chief operating officer for the company’s Chicago and Milwaukee divisions.

After joining Koenig & Strey in 2007, Ayers’ leadership led to the brokerage’s acquisition by HomeServices in September 2009.

"I’ve known Doug as long as I’ve been in the real estate business — from the beginning I knew that he was one of those very special people that are destined for success," said Ron Peltier, HomeServices of America CEO, in a statement.

"It’s been an honor and privilege to work with Doug, and we will feel his loss very deeply."

Ayers had served on the National Association of Realtors Large Broker Advisory Board and the NAR Presidential Advisory Group.

He is survived by his wife, Lisa, and children Rose, Preston, Taylor and Elizabeth.

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