Alex Trebek always believed in the best in people. In fact, the late Jeopardy! host wanted to “empower” people.
His widow Jean Trebek spoke with TODAY show co-anchor Savannah Guthrie about some of the causes closest to his heart. The segment aired as part of the NBC special “Inspiring America: The 2021 Inspiration List” on Saturday. Some of the other honorees were NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Trebeks, and Chef José Andrés.
The Trebeks cared deeply about ending homelessness, Jean said. They donated more than $500,000 to the Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission, to aid those unhoused people in Los Angeles.
“(Alex) was deeply grateful to be part of the solution,” Jean Trebek told Guthrie. “We both saw the rise of homelessness. Now we have this beautiful bridge house that’s being built right now to help people.”
The longtime Jeopardy! host died in November after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Alex said he frequently received letters from people recently diagnosed with cancer, and he would try to respond and help them not give up.
“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.
Ex-‘Jeopardy!’ Host Glad His Kids Learned This Early
The late Jeopardy! Alex Trebek host opened up about his life in a 2019 profile and said that he learned later in life about the importance of giving back. But it’s something his children picked up early, a fact that made him quite happy.
“I think they have learned by watching,” Trebek said. “My son, (who is) sitting in the other room, I’m very proud of him because both he and his sister Emily have achieved elements of compassion in life that I don’t think I had at their age. And I don’t know if they got it from me or from their mother, who is an extremely wonderful human being, but they have it, and I’m so proud that they do have it.”
Trebek began helping during the 1980s Ethiopian famine. He couldn’t believe how harsh life was in that part of the world. So he began volunteering with World Vision, a partnership he kept up for 25 years. He would make trips with the charity to deliver food and medical supplies to Africa.