Laurence Msall, 61, died at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago after complications from a recent heart surgery.

CHICAGO (AP) — Laurence Msall, the longtime president of a nonpartisan Illinois tax and budget watchdog group and a former aide to two governors, died following complications from surgery. He was 61.

Msall had been the Civic Federation's president since January 2002. He died Saturday surrounded by his family, the group said in a statement, calling his death a “devastating blow” that left its members heartbroken.

“While Laurence was the Civic Federation to so many in the community, his real legacy was in helping to make the Civic Federation the indispensable voice for fiscal responsibility throughout the state of Illinois,” the group said.

Before his 21-year tenure with the group, Msall's career included working as an aide to two Republican governors, according to his obituary. He first worked as an aide for then-Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson at the Department of Commerce and Community Affairs.

In 1990, Msall joined the staff of the Commercial Club of Chicago as vice president. But he returned to state government in 1999, after then-Gov. George Ryan appointed him senior advisor for economic development.

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza called Msall “a crucial voice advocating for honest budgeting.”

“Laurence was such an important bridge between the business community and government, holding the city, state, county and other units of government accountable by analyzing their budgets,” Mendoza added Sunday in a statement.

Msall's survivors include his wife, Nicola Hill-Cordell, and a blended family of eight children.

A visitation will be held Tuesday at Salerno’s Galewood Chapel in Chicago, with a Mass will set for Wednesday at St. Giles Church in Oak Park, according to his obituary.

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