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Hoda Kotb reflects on devastating death of friend in poignant post

The Today star marked the anniversary of her good friend's husband's passing

Hanna Fillingham

Hoda Kotb faced an incredibly sad day at the beginning of the week as she marked three years since the death of her friend John Ronquillo.

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John was the husband of the Today star's lifelong friend Karen Swensen, and Hoda paid a poignant tribute to him on social media.

Taking to Instagram, the journalist shared a lovely photo of Karen and John, alongside a heartfelt message.

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She wrote: "3 years ago we lost a great man. Still hard to believe.. even after all this time. John, @karenswensen and @catherinergrace are in good hands.. yours."

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Fans were quick to send their support, with one writing: "So sorry for your loss, sending love and prayers," while another wrote: "Sending lots of love." A third added: "Sending so much love."

John passed away from cancer in September 2018 at the age of 64, and Hoda was Karen's rock during this time.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Hoda Kotb (@hodakotb)

Hoda Kotb paid tribute on the anniversary of her friend John's tragic death

Karen and Hoda met in 1994 while working at WWL-TV, a CBS affiliate in New Orleans. They are such good friends, that Hoda even named her second daughter, Hope Catherine Kotb, after Karen and John's daughter.

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In April 2019 shortly after bringing Hope home, Hoda opened up about the significance of her daughter's moniker on an episode of Today.

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Hoda with her best friend Karen and her daughter Catherine at her high school graduation

She said: "We had already thought of a name, Joel [Schiffman] and I had, and 'hope' is in my journal about 10 million times when I was writing for her," she explained.

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"Catherine is my best friend's daughter's name. It just so happens this weekend when [Hope] was born, it was also John's birthday, my best friend's husband who passed, and they said that they promised him that they would come to New York and go to Yankee Stadium to a baseball game for him on his birthday in heaven.

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Hoda named her youngest daughter after Karen's daughter Catherine

"And so it was a very emotional time for all of us and I said to Catherine, 'You're the strongest kid I know.' So I wanted to name her after Catherine."

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Hoda has a close bond with Catherine and recently shared a photo from her high school graduation, showing her proudly standing next to Karen in a group picture. 

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