Kaiser Permanente Chairman, CEO Bernard Tyson dies

Bay Area

OAKLAND (KRON) – The chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente has unexpectedly died, Kaiser officials announced on Sunday.

A statement released by Kaiser Permanente said Bernard J. Tyson passed away in his sleep.

“Bernard was an exceptional colleague, a passionate leader, and an honorable man. We will greatly miss him. The board has full confidence in Greg Adams’ ability to lead Kaiser Permanente through this unexpected transition.”

Board member Edward Pei, Chair of the Executive Committee and the Governance, Accountability and Nominating Committee

Kaiser will remember Tyson as an outstanding leader, visionary and champion for high-quality health care for all Americans.

Friends say he put the common good of others before himself.

“Legacy of a life lived by a can-do spirit,” Dr. Amos C. Brown said. “And a legacy of being concerned about more than his family, his career but concerned about the community and the common good of all people.”

Tyson climbed his way up Kaiser over 30 years and became Kaiser Permanente’s first African American chairman.

He died Sunday morning in his sleep at age 60. 

Brown is the president of the San Francisco branch of the NAACP and said Tyson was a leader in the community.

“Great benefactor for many causes, the heirs of education, healthcare and civil rights advocacy,” Brown said. “A philanthropist. He certainly was someone who was a humanitarian and cared about people.”

Former Mayor of Oakland, Elihu Harris said Tyson was monumental to the city.

“He was committed to this city, not only the homeless programs in Oakland whether they were in Kaiser or not,” Harris said. “He gave to community organizations. He came to community events. He was a real leader in this community.”

A leader across the Bay Area, and a leader across the nation.

TIME included Tyson on one of its lists of 100 most influential people and named him one of the health care 50.

“This is an inexpressible loss to the Civil Rights, health and civic communities in this nation> 

After learning of Tyson’s death, Governor Newsom released a statement.

“Jennifer and I are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of health care pioneer and our dear friend Bernard Tyson. Bernard’s vision and influence made an impact at home and abroad, and he led with excellence on behalf of millions of Kaiser patients and thousands of employees. We will always remember how he made health care accessible for so many while paving the way for countless professionals of color to pursue leadership roles in health care and corporate America.

Our thoughts are with Denise, the Tyson family, and all at Kaiser Permanente who were inspired by Bernard’s leadership and example.”

Governor Gavin Newsom

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released the following statement regarding the sudden death:

“The passing of Bernard Tyson is a great professional loss for our country and all those committed to quality, affordable health care, as well as a deeply personal loss for all of those who were privileged to call him a friend. Bernard Tyson was a proud son of the Bay Area who embodied our city’s values of equality and opportunity for all.  Over more than three decades of innovative, pioneering leadership in health care, Bernard Tyson worked tirelessly to bring hope and healing to millions.  His passionate advocacy for the Affordable Care Act helped protect and strengthen this landmark legislation, ensuring that every family, in every community had access to the care they needed to grow and thrive. As one of our nation’s most prominent African American CEOs and health care leaders, Bernard blazed a trail for countless other health care advocates and leaders of color to bring their vision, values and expertise to improving the health and well-being of our communities. Bernard Tyson leaves behind an inspiring legacy of progress for all those who follow in his footsteps.  May it be a comfort to his wife, Denise, his children, Bernard Jr., Charles and Alexander, and the entire Tyson family that so many mourn with and pray for them at this sad time.”

Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee also released a statement on the passing of Tyson.

The statement read:

“We at Covered California are deeply saddened by the passing of Bernard Tyson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente. Bernard’s vision and laser focus on increasing access, quality and affordable health care coverage for all has helped transform Kaiser and had a positive impact on the entire health care system. He truly ‘walked the talk’ in his concern for making health care not just a right, but something that is affordable and centered on the great diversity of patients. His efforts will have a lasting imprint on California and the nation. Our thoughts go out to his family and the broader Kaiser community he led.”

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