Remembering Alex Trebek


Remembering Alex Trebek, the host of “Jeopardy!” (Courtesy of Facebook)

American television icon and longtime “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek passed away on Sunday, Nov. 8 at 80 years old after a year-long battle with cancer. His death sent shockwaves across the nation, followed by an outpouring of love and remembrance for Trebek on all media platforms. When the news of his passing surfaced, people across the nation and of all generations posted similar anecdotes of how they and their loved ones would gather each weeknight to witness Trebek do what he does best. Those fond memories of watching “Jeopardy!” that were shared by thousands of people of all ages demonstrate how Trebek touched so many lives during his three decades as “Jeopardy!” host. 

What Alex Trebek accomplished in his lifetime is what most people can only dream of doing. He began his broadcasting career as a Canadian sports announcer and then went on to work as a host for various shows until he secured a recurring role as the host of “Jeopardy!” Three decades later, Trebek has won seven Emmy Awards, has hosted over 8,000 episodes and has held the record for most episodes of a game show hosted. Although he was deserving of much praise for his endeavors, Trebek remained humble and considered the most important things in his life to be his family and his encouragement of education. Regarding his legacy, Trebek wrote in his memoir, “The Answer is… Reflections On My Life,” that above all, he would like to be remembered 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.” In this quote we find the lesson that the only thing that brings richness to life is the type of person we are, as well as the ways in which we impact the lives of others. This is just one of the many teachings that Trebek has left behind with us. 

Aside from being a distinguished figure of the television world, Alex Trebek will be remembered by the Fordham community for his strong ties to the university and the tradition of Jesuit education. Not only was Trebek a Fordham parent and a student of a Jesuit institution, but he was also a benefactor of the university, endowing a $1 million scholarship in 2015. Trebek’s connection with Fordham and his impact on its students has made his passing even more poignant for our school community. Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the university, referred to Trebek as the “nation’s school teacher” and mused on what Trebek has taught us about “how to live each day with purpose, with focus, with determination, with love, and without being obsessed with oneself.” Alex Trebek’s memory will certainly live on in the Fordham community, and his contributions to the university will never be forgotten. 

In March 2019, Trebek announced that he was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer and noted that he did not have a good prognosis. In delivering this unfortunate news, Trebek urged his fans to keep their spirits high as he intended to be aggressive in his fight against the disease. His hopeful attitude toward his illness indeed uplifted his fans and the many viewers of “Jeopardy!” Since the announcement of his diagnosis, Trebek continued to film episodes of the game show up until two weeks before his death, exemplifying not only a dedication to his fans but also a genuine love for his job. While fans of the game show currently wait in anticipation for the declaration of a new “Jeopardy!” host, it goes without saying that the spirit of Alex Trebek will always remain on the stage. His final episode hosting “Jeopardy!” will air on Dec. 25. 

Trebek’s kind and inspiring presence on the game show evoked respect and admiration from both contestants and fans alike, and was just one factor that allowed him to serve as “Jeopardy!” host for 36 years. Not only was he well-equipped with the knowledge and skill to host the trivia game show, but he also had a priceless smile that made every episode worth watching. His success both in and out of the television world is a testament to his character and his devotion to encouraging the spread of knowledge. For more than three decades, Alex Trebek stirred a sense of curiosity and wisdom within his fans, and there is no doubt that his spirit will endure in the memories of those who were touched by him. Alex Trebek will be remembered not only for filling our minds but also our hearts, and he will be greatly missed.