Former TODAY Show weatherman Willard Scott has sadly passed away at the age of 87. The news was broken by his former co-hosts on Instagram, including Katie Couric and current weatherman Al Roker, who paid tributes to their former colleague and friend.
Katie, who was anchor of the popular morning show between 1991 and 2006, posted a sweet throwback photo of herself with a smiling Willard. “I am heartbroken that the much loved Willard Scott has passed away. Willard played such an outsized role in me,” she began in her caption, going on to reference his prior radio career and portrayal of McDonald’s icon Ronald McDonald.
“Whether it was as the Ronald McDonald of my childhood, ‘Joy Boy’ of radio in Washington DC, and of course, as a ubiquitous presence on the @todayshow (1980-2015),” the longtime television host and founder of Katie Couric Media penned. She went on to remember the last time she had seen Willard, which was at a funeral for broadcaster Jim Vance in 2017.
“Willard was as warm and loving and generous off camera as he was on. I last saw him at the funeral of Jim Vance, the longtime lead anchor of WRCTV in Washington DC,” she reflected. “Willard, you didn’t make it to the front of the Smucker’s jar but you changed so many lives for the better. You will be missed. #restinpeace,” she closed her caption.
Al Roker, who joined the series in 1996 as the full-time anchor (Willard stayed on in a part-time basis until 2015), also reflected on his relationship with the broadcast icon. “We lost a beloved member of our @todayshow family this morning. Willard Scott passed peacefully at the age of 87 surrounded by family, including his daughters Sally and Mary and his lovely wife, Paris,” Al wrote, captioning a photo of the two sharing a laugh.
“He was truly my second dad and am where I am today because of his generous spirit,” Al added. “Willard was a man of his times, the ultimate broadcaster. There will never be anyone quite like him.”
The TODAY Show also took to social media with a statement of their own, alongside a photo from Willard’s early days on the series. “#WillardScott — the legendary TODAY weatherman known for his exuberant personality and launching the tradition of celebrating fans who reached the century mark — died this week, TODAY’s Al Roker has confirmed,” they said. “He was 87 years old. Follow the link in bio for a look back on his life and legacy,” sending fans to a memorial page detailing his lengthy career.
Hoda Kotb followed Al and Katie with a short and sweet tribute. The 57-year-old shared a happy photo of Al and Willard, along with the caption, “#willardscott we will miss you RIP my friend xoxoxoxo.”