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Kathie Lee Gifford honors mom Joan on 1-year anniversary of her death

The TODAY fourth-hour co-host shared a special tribute to her late mother, Joan Epstein.
/ Source: TODAY

Kathie Lee Gifford honored her late mother on the one-year anniversary of her death at 87.

The TODAY fourth-hour co-host took to Instagram with a photo of her mom, Joan Epstein, snuggling on the sofa. "Remembering my beautiful mom today, one year after her passing. So grateful that she is finally 'home,'" she wrote in the caption.

Joan, whom her famous daughter once called "the sunniest person I know," was a beloved member of the extended TODAY family, often stopping by Studio 1A to chat with Kathie Lee and Hoda on air. The lively supermom also happily whipped up her favorite recipes and shared her valuable parenting secrets with viewers.

Joan and Kathie Lee spoke on the phone every morning before Kathie Lee went on the air. But Joan's motherly pep talks began decades before, when she encouraged Kathie Lee at a young age to follow her professional dreams.

"I left home when I was 17 years old to pursue my career, and (my parents) were all for it," Kathie Lee remembered. "They figured that they had raised me, and they wanted me to follow my passion. I’ve tried to do that with my own children. She gave me wings."

Shortly after Joan died last year, Kathie Lee and Hoda shared their favorite memories of her with viewers.

"Your mom was one of the bright lights I think I had ever met," Hoda told her co-host, recalling how the first time Joan was introduced to everyone, "We all fell madly in love."

Kathie Lee told viewers her mom wasn’t afraid of dying because she had "the strongest faith of anyone I’ve ever known."

Although Joan was orphaned as a child and lost many other loved ones at a young age, the losses never affected her upbeat attitude.

"Do you know what she always remembered? What she had. What she still had," Kathie Lee said. "And she had the Lord in a deep, deep way."