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In his own words: How Alex Trebek wanted to be remembered

Trebek, who died Sunday from pancreatic cancer at age 80, had hoped to leave behind a legacy of a "decent man" who lifted up the contestants on "Jeopardy!"
/ Source: TODAY

Alex Trebek's death on Sunday at age 80 left fans and avid "Jeopardy!" viewers in mourning, but since going public with his stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis in 2019, the longtime TV host had come to terms with the possibility that he was nearing the end of his life.

The year of his diagnosis, the Emmy winner had said he was "not afraid of dying" and, more recently, in his 2020 memoir, "The Answer Is ...", had reflected on his life well lived.

"One thing they’re not going to say at my funeral as part of the eulogy is 'He was taken from us too soon,'" Trebek wrote. "I’m about to turn 80. I’ve lived a good, full life, and I’m nearing the end of it. I know that."

Alex Trebek Dies At 80
"I’ve lived a good, full life, and I’m nearing the end of it. I know that," Alex Trebek wrote in his 2020 memoir.Emma McIntyre / Getty Images

He added that he's often asked how he'd like to be remembered.

"I suppose if I had to answer, I would say I’d like to be remembered first of all as a good and loving husband and father, and also as a decent man who did his best to help people perform at their best,” he continued. "Because that was my job."

Trebek was asked that very question in a 2007 interview with the Television Academy Foundation, during which he gave an identical answer about being a "decent guy" who supported the contestants on "Jeopardy!" He also explained more about how he viewed his role on the iconic game show.

"You are there to make these players relax enough that they can demonstrate their skills because they're the stars of the show," he said. "They're the ones that the viewers are interested in seeing. You're going to be there five days a week, every week. They can get tired of you if you come on too strong.

"So lay back, put the emphasis on the players, and if you do that properly, then the viewers will look on you as a good guy. 'He's a nice guy and I like him.' If that's the way they remember me down the line, perfectly happy with that."

Trebek followed his own advice to a tee, building strong relationships with contestants and at-home viewers alike. When the news of his death broke, tributes poured in from former "Jeopardy!" all-stars, including Ken Jennings, James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter.

On Sunday, a post on the "Jeopardy!" Twitter account confirmed that Trebek had died.

"Jeopardy! is saddened to share that Alex Trebek passed away peacefully at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends," it read. "Thank you, Alex."