Alex died in November of 2020 at age 80 after a very lengthy and public battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Not only was he the beloved host of the long-running game show, but Alex and Jean are responsible for some impressive charitable work as well.
Jean opened up about her late husband for the first time in an interview with “Today” co-anchor Savannah Guthrie as part of the NBC special “Inspiring America: The 2021 Inspiration List” on Saturday. In addition to discussing how the family is coping with the loss of Alex months later, she honored him by discussing his charitable work.
Throughout their more than 30-year marriage the duo gave back every chance they got. Most recently, they donated $500,000 to help fund the Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission, which endeavors to help the growing homeless population in Los Angeles.
“He was deeply grateful to be part of the solution,” she shared with Guthrie. “We both saw the rise of homelessness. Now we have this beautiful bridge house that’s being built right now to help people.”
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 06: (L-R) Alex Trebek and Jean Currivan Trebek attend the 47th AFI Life Achievement Award honoring Denzel Washington at Dolby Theatre on June 06, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for AFI)
“Today” notes that Alex and Jean were involved in many charities such as offering scholarships at Fordham University in New York City, supporting the United Service Organizations, donating to public park space in Hollywood Hills and funding global projects through World Vision.
While charity was obviously important to them, Jean revealed that they also tried to make empathy for the less fortunate a part of their children’s lives too. She described a particularly formative trip the family took to Zambia to see a community center and school they helped fund.
“We decided to take the children to Africa just to show, ‘Look, this is where help is needed,”’ Jean explained. “And Alex and I were big fans of that, actually demonstrating that in our family.”
She recalled her late husband’s stunned and empathetic reaction to a desperate woman who attempted to give him her baby to take care of.
Alex Trebek’s wife, Jean, opened up for the first time about his death.
(ADRIAN SANCHEZ-GONZALEZ/AFP via Getty Images)
“I think that moment, meeting that woman, he was like, ‘Wow,’ and then you’re left (with), ‘What more can I do?'” she said of Alex’s reaction.
Alex’s propensity to help people even bled into his cancer diagnosis. He made the decision to be very public and open with his fans about his battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, which many have said helped them with their own cancer struggles.
“I think that is one of Alex’s gifts was that he could be very resolute and know that the truth will not hurt you, and he wanted to empower people to move through whatever challenge they had in life with a sense of inner strength, inner dignity and love,” Jean concluded.