James Schiro

Obituary of James Schiro

James J. Schiro PRINCETON - James J. "Jim" Schiro, former chief executive officer of Zurich Financial Services and PricewaterhouseCoopers, passed away on Aug. 13, 2014, after a courageous battle with multiple myeloma. Jim was born on Jan. 2, 1946, in Brooklyn, NY, son of Joseph and Mary Schiro; and brother of Christina Schiro Scalise. He was proud of his Brooklyn roots, and of being raised in a large, extended Italian-American family. Throughout his life, Jim carried with him the values he learned from his family and his Catholic faith: a strong work ethic, a passion for social responsibility, and an unfailing commitment to the highest ethical standards. Jim never forgot who he was or where he came from. Hard working from a young age, his first job was as a delivery boy for the local butcher. Jim worked his way through New Utrecht High School and was awarded a scholarship from the Knights of Columbus and Citibank to attend college. He received a B.S. from St. John's University in 1967, an M.B.A. from Dartmouth College, and an honorary doctorate of commercial science from St. John's University in 1995. Jim joined the legacy Price Waterhouse in 1967 after graduating from St. John's University, and was admitted into the partnership in 1979. He held various roles of increasing responsibility, including managing partner of the New York office (1991 to 1995), and chairman and senior partner of legacy Price Waterhouse from 1995 until the merger with Coopers & Lybrand in 1998. At that time, Jim was appointed Global CEO of the newly formed PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the largest tax, accounting and consulting firms in the world. Jim retired from the firm in 2002. From 2002 to 2009, Jim served as the CEO of Zurich Financial Services. He joined the company shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when financial and market pressures on insurers were particularly pronounced. Jim was credited with turning around Zurich Financial, instilling financial discipline, centralizing processes, and returning the company to profitability. Barron's magazine described him as "the Transformer" when the publication recognized Jim as a member of their Top CEO list in 2008 and 2009. Following hurricane Katrina in 2005, Jim was a key force in the rebirth of New Orleans. With Zurich Financial, he made the decision to keep the Zurich Classic golf tournament in that city. Following Jim's retirement from Zurich Financial Services, he served on several boards of directors, including lead director of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. and PepsiCo, Inc., as well as a board member of Royal Philips Electronics NV and REVA Medical, Inc. Jim also served on the U.S. and Global Financial Services Advisory Board for CVC Capital Partners. Throughout Jim's life he was active in a number of non-profit activities, including serving on the board of trustees of St. John's University and the Institute for Advanced Study. Jim served on the boards of the Geneva Association, Tsinghua School of Economics and Management, St. Michael Special School, Stuart Country Day School of The Sacred Heart, The Hun School of Princeton, McCarter Theater, The American Repertory Ballet, Bedens Brook Club, Jasna Polana, Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, and Tri-State United Way Board of Governors. Jim was also a Knight of the Order of Malta. Jim worked tirelessly to improve professional standards and the public sector through countless organizations and committees, including as treasurer and executive committee member of the US Council for International Business, vice-chairman of the American Friends of Lucerne Festival, and the former chairman of the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce. He was a member of the Independence Standards Board of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, European Financial Services Roundtable, Business Council of the World Economic Forum, Foundation Board of IMD, U.S. China Business Council, former chairperson of the Business Improvement District (BID) Task Force of the New York City Partnership/Chamber of Commerce's Economic Development Committee, and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He was the recipient of the Avenue of the Americas Association's Gold Key Award, Ellis Island Medal of Honor, NIAF Achievement in Business award, American Jewish Committee's National Human Relations Award, St. John's University "Spirit of Service" honoree, and the Insurance Leader of the Year recipient from the School for Risk Management, Insurance and Actuarial Science at St. John's University. Mr. Schiro was devoted, first and foremost, to his beloved family. He met his soul mate, Tomasina, at the age of 18. Through 46 years of marriage, they forged a true partnership and shared a deep love of and commitment to family, a love of global travel, reading, gardening, performing arts, opera, golf, culinary arts, as well as a commitment to public service with a special interest in education. They supported each other in all of their endeavors and passed on their values to their children, Justine and James. Jim was an avid angler, a passionate golfer, and a wine enthusiast with a strong commitment to mentoring younger generations. He is also survived by his daughter, Justine, wife of Apostolos John Tsiouris, and James Jr., husband of Aileen Brody Schiro; and his beloved granddaughter, Elisabeth A wake will be at The Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, 40 Vandeventer Ave., Princeton, NJ 08542, on Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, from 6 to 9 p.m., and Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014, from 1 to 3 and 6 to 9 p.m. The funeral is at St. Paul Roman Catholic Church, 214 Nassau St., Princeton 08542, on Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, at 9:30 a.m. In lieu of flowers or gifts, the Schiro family would be grateful for donations made in Jim Schiro's name to St. Michael Special School, 1522 Chippewa St., New Orleans, LA 70130, 504-524-7285, stmichaelspecialschool.com.
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