Al Roker paid tribute to legendary TODAY weatherman Willard Scott, who died on Saturday, Sept. 4 at 87.
Al, who replaced a then semi-retired Scott on TODAY in 1996, shared a touching post on Instagram alongside carousel of images of the duo posing together throughout the years. In the caption, Al penned a heartfelt message memorializing the late weatherman.
“We lost a beloved member of our @todayshow family this morning,” Al wrote. “Willard Scott passed peacefully at the age of 87 surrounded by family, including his daughters Sally and Mary and his lovely wife, Paris.”
Al continued, remembering his predecessor fondly, “He was truly my second dad and am where I am today because of his generous spirit.”
“Willard was a man of his times, the ultimate broadcaster,” Al concluded his post. “There will never be anyone quite like him.”
TODAY’s Jenna Bush Hager commented on the post, writing, “What a man! Thinking of you so.”
Former TODAY co-anchor Katie Couric also took a moment to honor the late Scott on Instagram, sharing a photo of the two sharing a sweet embrace.
“I am heartbroken that the much loved Willard Scott has passed away,” she wrote in the caption. “Willard played such an outsized role in my life…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).”
Couric said that Scott was just as “warm and loving and generous” both on and off camera.
“I last saw him at the funeral of Jim Vance longtime lead anchor of WRCTV in Washington,” she continued. “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”
NBC News chief Washington correspondent Andrea Mitchell also paid homage to Scott on social media Saturday. "My longtime friend in the DC bureau, a ray of sunshine no matter what the weather or how grim the news," she wrote on Twitter. "Beloved by fans and colleagues alike."
Scott began his 65-year-career with NBC as a page at an affiliate station in Washington, D.C. in 1950 after graduating from American University. Five years later, he began hosting the radio show called “Joy Boys” on the NBC radio station WRC and remained until the program ended in 1974.
Throughout the 1960s, Scott hosted various children’s television shows and portrayed a variety of characters on WRC, including Bozo the Clown. He also became the first person to play Ronald McDonald and began appearing in commercials in the Washington area beginning in 1963.
In the 1970s, Scott stayed in Washington and became the weatherman for NBC's local channel 4 station. It wasn’t until March 1980 that Scott replaced Bob Ryan as the weatherman on TODAY.
Scott was best known for wishing a big “Happy Birthday!” to TODAY fans turning 100 in the now-popular segment where pictures of the centenarians are shown on a Smucker’s jelly jar and celebrated on air. The tradition began when Scott agreed to a viewer’s request to wish his mother a happy 100th birthday in 1983 and has persisted throughout the decades.
Though Scott semi-retired from the air in 1996, he continued to fill in for Al for the next 10 years. He wrapped his 65 year run with NBC, 35 of which were spent on TODAY, in 2015 when he officially retired from TV at age 81.
At the time, the TODAY family celebrated his time with the network and the impact he made with his charm and presence.
“He’s in the marrow and the DNA of this show,” Savannah Guthrie said. “He's probably the most identified with the show than anybody. I think of Willard Scott I just think of joy.”
Guthrie later added, “Willard reminded everybody that there's this whole, wonderful, quirky, fascinating country out there. He loved introducing America to America.”