AmEx president Gilligan dies after becoming ill on flight

American Express Co. President Ed Gilligan died Friday morning after becoming ill on an overseas flight to New York.

Gilligan, 55, was returning from a business trip to Tokyo on a corporate aircraft, which made an emergency landing, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Efforts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful and the cause of death is undetermined, said the person, who asked not to be identified discussing a personal issue.

“This is deeply painful and frankly unimaginable for all of us who had the great fortune to work with Ed, and benefit from his insights, leadership and enthusiasm,” Chief Executive Officer Ken Chenault said in a letter to the staff. “His contributions have left an indelible imprint on practically every area of our business.”

Gilligan began working as an intern at the New York-based company about 35 years ago, and was named vice chairman in 2007 and president in 2013, according to the letter. People who reported to Gilligan will now report to Chenault, the letter said.

He is survived by his wife, Lisa, and their children – Katie, Meaghan, Kevin and Shane, the company said.