Dan Knott , who took medical retirement from Chrysler Group just over two weeks ago, died in his sleep at about 2:15 on April 29, surrounded by his family, following a long battle with cancer. Knott was 51.

Knott's medical retirement was announced April 13, ending his 24-year career with Chrysler.

In a statement, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said: “The Chrysler Group family is profoundly saddened today. Dan Knott was an inspirational leader, who cared deeply about the company and, most of all, his people. His passion for products shone through, and I will always remember how his child-like smile lit up the room when we talked about vehicles like the Viper or our Jeep brand. He made a huge contribution to Chrysler by improving our relations with suppliers with an approach based on honesty, transparency and accountability. Dan will be missed on a professional basis, and even more on a personal level. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. ”

Knott joined Chrysler in 1988 as a senior engineer. He became purchasing chief in December 2009. As Senior Vice President, Purchasing and Supplier Quality, Knott helped to dramatically improve the automaker’s supplier relations which had gone from being among the industry's best to the industry's worst.

When Knott's retirement was announced, Neil De Koker, president of the Original Equipment Suppliers Association, said Knott improved Chrysler's standing with suppliers "more than any individual that I know of in the history of OEM/supplier relations."

Prior to taking on the purchasing duties, Knott played an integral role in the product development of the Viper, Jeep Grand Cherokee and the SRT lineup. [Story originally posted April 29, 2012. Updated with link to full Dan Knott bio, May 2, 2012 .]