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Katie Couric left heartbroken after devastating death of a colleague

The journalist is mourning a dear friend

Gemma Strong

Katie Couric has taken to Instagram in memory of a close friend and colleague. The heartbroken 64-year-old shared a throwback snapshot showing her embracing Willard Scott, Today's longtime weatherman.

She wrote: "I am heartbroken that the much loved Willard Scott has passed away. Willard played such an outsized role in my life…whether it was as the Ronald McDonald of my childhood, A 'Joy Boy' of radio in Washington DC, and of course, as a ubiquitous presence on the @todayshow (1980-2015)."

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Katie continued: "We did many Thanksgiving Parades together and he was always so much fun. In fact, Willard was as warm and loving and generous off camera as he was on. I last saw him at the funeral of Jim Vance, the longtime lead anchor of WRCTV in Washington DC.

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Katie took to Instagram to pay tribute to Willard Scott

"Willard, you may not have made it to the front of the Smucker's jar, but you made mornings brighter for millions of Americans. Thinking of all my friends at Today who felt like Willard was family. With love and appreciation for a life well lived." Katie concluded her post with a series of red love hearts.

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Her fans and famous friends were quick to reach out and offer their support. "Oh Katie," wrote Amanda Kloots. "You could tell by watching him that he was a wonderful person. Love to you."

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Katie and Willard with their Today colleagues in 1999

Chef Catherine McCord wrote: "Oh no!!! Legend! He brightened so many people's mornings." A third follower shared: "That man has been a daily part of my life for as long as I can remember."

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Willard passed away on Saturday at his farm in Delaplane, Virginia. He was 87. The sad news was confirmed by his wife, Paris Keena Scott. She didn't reveal the cause, saying only that her husband had died after a brief illness.

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Willard's career spanned 65 years

Willard played both Bozo the Clown and the original Ronald McDonald on TV before going on to be among the first of a generation of TV weathermen with a focus on showmanship.

He is survived by his wife and his two daughters from his first marriage, Sally Scott Swiatek and Mare Scott, as well as two grandchildren.

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