Nintendo of Japan has sent out the heart-wrenching announcement that Satoru Iwata, longtime president of Nintendo, passed away on July 11 "due to a bile duct growth." He was 55.
Iwata became Nintendo's fourth president in 2002. In 2013, he also took on the role of CEO of Nintendo of America.
Last year (2014), Iwata skipped the Electronic Entertainment Expo for health reasons, revealing that he had a tumor on his bile duct, for which he underwent surgery.
While in charge of Nintendo, Iwata helped usher in some of the companies biggest successes (the Wii and the Nintendo DS), though they've struggled in recent years due to a disappointing performance of the Wii U. Iwata handled the lackluster sales of the Wii U by giving himself a pay cut.
Before being part of Nintendo proper, Iwata worked for the Nintendo subsidiary HAL Laboratory, Inc., where he helped create games in the Kirby series (among others).
In more recent years he's made consistent appearances in most of the "Nintendo Direct" videos in which the company announces and shows off their upcoming games. He also ran a feature called "Iwata Asks," in which he interviewed various Nintendo developers about what they were working on.