Events that occur around us can sometimes influence our thoughts and emotions. It can teach us new lessons and can leave us thinking about the good things we have in life. Sometimes, it might be about a person. Though they might have been with us for years, we sometimes don’t realize their value until that particular event. Something similar happened to the Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek recently. A recent death evoked a new surge of gratitude for his wife. He spoke about how he felt they should have met earlier.
The game show host, who is currently battling cancer, opened up in an interview to talk about his personal life. Trebek said though he was happy in life, a recent death left him pondering. “I’m pretty satisfied with my life. But my wife Jean and I have been together almost 29 years, and I was thinking about President Bush when he died, and all the comments about his life about what a nice guy he is, and how he and his wife had been together 73 years. I thought, oh my gosh … if I’d just met Jean in my 20s, we could have had a longer life together,” said Trebek.
But being 24 years older than his wife, Trebek added, “I guess if I’d met her when I was in my 20s she wouldn’t have been born yet. But hey, 29 years is pretty good!”
Initially just friends, the couple first met at a party in 1988. “There was just this deep sensitivity about him with a gruffy exterior. I kept thinking, he’s 24 years older than me .. but there was something that just kept drawing me to him,” said the now 54-year-old Jean. But soon it turned into a romance.
After seeing each other for around 2 years, Trebek tied the knot with the then a real estate project manager on April 30, 1990.
In an interview, soon after their wedding, the couple said their age gap wasn’t a problem. “At first it worried me,” Trebek shared. “But then I thought, ‘The hell with it. We’ll make it work.’ ” Jean added, “I can understand why he was cautious about being with a younger woman. So I didn’t try to push him. We just took it one day at a time.” Today, the two have a great marriage with two children.
The couple enjoys spending time with each other at home as both of them are not into going out very often. “I was never into going out to clubs. It wasn’t my scene. The other night was a red-letter day. I cooked for my wife and then we went out to a movie,” said the 78-year-old host.
However, like every other couple, Trebek and Jean have had their challenges. “We have our challenges. And then we have our really beautiful times, where we’re just so blessed to know that we’re in each other’s courtyard,” she said.
But regardless of their bad times, Jean is drawn to her husband and his sense of humor. “He’s got a great sense of humor. He takes his job very seriously, but won’t take himself too seriously. He’s also youthful. He’s just an intelligent human being. Part of Alex’s staying youthful is his staying curious,” said Jean.
This is not the first time, Trebek became vocal about his love and gratitude for his wife. When he spoke about his cancer struggle in May 2019, the talk show host said that his wife was his steadfast support. He credited his wife for the care and patience she showed during the painful phase of his life. “Jeannie is wonderful. She cried, of course, this morning when she got the [good] news [about my tumors shrinking]. But it’s been a lot. It’s a lot of pressure,” said Trebek to People.
He was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on March 6, 2019. In August 2019, he announced that he had finished chemotherapy, with the tumors having shrunk considerably and him on his way to recovery. However, his road to recovery hit a setback soon. According to People, Trebek said, “They said, ‘Good, we’re gonna stop chemo, we’ll start you on immunotherapy’ and I lost about 12 pounds in a week and my numbers went sky-high, much higher than they were when I was first diagnosed.” As a result, Trebek had to begin another round of chemotherapy.
Despite his deteriorating health, Trebek continues to fight on with his wife by his side. Throughout their life together, Trebek and Jean have been with each other, so it is no doubt he feels even 29 years together isn’t good enough.