Skip to main contentSkip to footer

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

today hoda kotb emotional tribute
Hanna Fillingham
US Managing Editor
September 8, 2021
Share this:

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.

MORE: Hoda Kotb comes to the rescue of her co-star during family trip to the beach

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.

VIDEO: Today's Hoda Kotb opens up about horrific parenting shame

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."

MORE: Hoda Kotb bids bittersweet farewell to Today as co-stars are left in tears

MORE: Hoda Kotb praised by fans in wake of challenging health update

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.

View post on Instagram

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.

MORE: Hoda Kotb breaks devastating news live on Today concerning much-loved member of show

MORE: Savannah Guthrie recalls 'heartbreaking' incident on Today involving co-star Hoda Kotb

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

today hoda kotb best friend

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.

MORE: Hoda Kotb gets fans talking as she returns to Today

MORE: Hoda Kotb marks celebratory occasion with Kathie Lee Gifford - but it's bittersweet

"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.

today hoda kotb children joel

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."

MORE: Today's Hoda Kotb makes difficult parenting confession

MORE: Hoda Kotb's poolside snapshot gets fans talking

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. 

Read more HELLO! US stories here

Like this story? Sign up to our newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Sign up to HELLO Daily! for the best royal, celebrity and lifestyle coverage

By entering your details, you are agreeing to HELLO! Magazine User Data Protection Policy. You can unsubscribe at any time. For more information, please click here.

More Celebrity News

See more