Alex Trebek had undergone surgery in his final days and he still wanted to keep working. He was called a "warrior" for his dedication.
Game show host Alex Trebek was 80 when he died from pancreatic cancer. The Jeopardy! host found lasting love a little later in his life, but he nonetheless cherished it because not all men are lucky enough to find it. Trebek was 47 when he met Canada-born Jean Currivan in 1988 through a friend. By then, he had been hosting the game show for four years and had recently divorced his first wife, Elaine Callei.
Currivan, who is 23 years younger than him, used to be his friend's part-time bookkeeper. "With Jean, it just happened," Trebek wrote in his memoir The Answer Is...Reflections On My Life. "Sometimes you look at something, you look at someone, and you know. I mean, you've heard stories of people who meet and decide within half an hour; I knew this was going to be the person I'd end up with. With Jeanie, that's how it was. I wasn't looking for love. But I recognized at a gut level that here was someone who was going to complete me as a human being," he said, according to Newsweek.
They were together for almost 30 years before Trebek passed away. The couple had two kids, Matthew, 30, who owns a restaurant in New York, and Emily, 27, who works in real estate. During the three decades they spent together, the couple had a beautiful life together and for Trebek, his wife was the motivation to keep fighting the battle against cancer so he could be with her a little longer.
During his final days, he was a "warrior" on the set, executive producer Mike Richards said, as per The Independent. "In the last few weeks, he had an intestinal surgery, and he was out for a little bit. I talked to him seven days before what would end up being his final taping session, and I said, 'Alex, you're barely up and around. We have a long way to go before you're gonna be back in the studio taping,'" Richard told the game show host.
"He got very firm, which I loved, and he goes, 'I'll be there. Don't you cancel anything.' And sure as heck, he was. He was a warrior," he added.
As much as he loved his work, he loved his wife more, and he was able to spend his last day exactly how he wanted. "He had a swing in his backyard that he loved. He actually rebuilt it earlier this year. He was very handy. I don’t know if a lot of people know that," Richards told Today.com. "And 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," Richards added.
"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," added the producer.
He was in an "enormous amount of pain," on the last day he taped. "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,'" Richards said.
Trebek gained a lifelong fan in Richards, who joined the game show only in early 2020, with his response and work ethic. "He kind of had his head down and he looked up and said, ‘Well, thank you.’ And that, you knew, when he accepted that, that he was really fighting and it was just so important for him to do this show and to support everything that it means to America," added the producer.
He further added that Trebek was "incredibly hard-working." He said, "He cared about this show. He cared about the importance of this show and that it helped people want to be smarter. He made that cool."
Cover images source: Getty Images | Photo by (L)Mark Mainz (R) David Becker