As fans mourn the loss of Alex Trebek, they can find comfort in his fulfilling final day.
Less than two years after announcing his pancreatic cancer diagnosis, the longtime Jeopardy! host died on Sunday, Nov. 8. "Jeopardy! is saddened to share that Alex Trebek passed away peacefully at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends," the show confirmed in a tweet. The iconic figure was 80 years old.
As the grief continues over his passing, Jeopardy's Executive Producer Mike Richards shared touching details about Trebek's last day, revealing that he spent it exactly how he always wanted.
"He had a swing in his backyard that he loved," Richards told Today's Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb on Monday, Nov. 9. "Even in his book he described that he wanted his final day to be sitting on his swing next to his wife Jean and kind of watching the horizon and he got to do that. He was coherent, he wasn't in pain and the fact that he had a nice final day, I think makes all of us in the Jeopardy! family feel much better."
Richards reflected on what is was like to work with Trebek, a man who was beloved in households everywhere. "He was even better than what you would hope for," the executive producer said. "He was incredibly hardworking, he cared about this show, he cared about the importance of the show and that it helped people want to be smarter...He made being smart cool."
Behind the scenes, Trebek was a devoted husband and father. "I think the greatest thing about him was how much he loved his family," Richards said. "Of all of the things he did and all of his accomplishments, his greatest accomplishment to him was his family and his love of his life."
Despite his achievements, Trebek also wasn't one for compliments. "He didn't enjoy being overly complimented or fawned over," Richards added. "He was Alex Trebek and he didn't suffer that kind of bloviating, as he would describe it."
However, as Richards recalled, there was a time when he finally accepted a compliment. "On what ended up being our final day taping, I knew he was in an enormous amount of pain," he remembered. "As he was leaving, I saw him at the door and I said, 'You know, that was maybe the most incredible thing I've ever seen.'"
"He kind of had his head down," Richards described, "and he looked up and he said, 'Well, thank you.'"
(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)