Willard Scott, the iconic “Today” show weatherman, died Saturday morning at the age of 87, NBC spokesperson Elizabeth Bader confirmed to USA TODAY.
“Today”‘s Al Roker shared the news on Instagram, calling Willard “a man of his times, the ultimate broadcaster.” The genial Scott was known as the show’s signature weatherman until he announced his semi-retirement in 1996, when Roker took over the job.
“We lost a beloved member of our @todayshow family this morning,” Roker shared Saturday. “Willard Scott passed peacefully at the age of 87 surrounded by family, including his daughters Sally and Mary and his lovely wife, Paris. He was truly my second dad and am where I am today because of his generous spirit. … There will never be anyone quite like him.”
USA TODAY reached out to the “Today” show for comment.
Katie Couric also paid tribute on Twitter.
“I am heartbroken that the much loved Willard Scott has passed away. He played such an outsized role in my life & was as warm & loving & generous off camera as he was on. Willard, you didn’t make it to the front of the Smucker’s jar, but you changed so many lives for the better,” she tweeted alongside an old photo of the two.
In 2015, the longtime NBC weatherman officially retired from the “Today” show after 35 years. During his time on the show, Scott was well known for using Smucker’s jelly jars to wish happy birthday to viewers turning 100 or older and had the distinction of being the first person to play Ronald McDonald, appearing in commercials in the Washington area starting in 1963.
Prior to joining “Today,” Scott hosted the “Joy Boys” radio show on NBC’s radio station WRC from 1955 to 1974.
He is survived by wife Paris Keena, whom he married in 2014, as well as his two daughters, Mary and Sally.
Contributing: Maria Puente