Kathie Lee Gifford announced on Tuesday that her mother Joan Epstein had died, and on Wednesday’s Today Show broadcast, she paid tribute to her late mom.
While struggling to hold back tears, Gifford said on September 13’s show that her mother had died in her sleep, and she noted that she believes her mom saw Jesus before her death just like her husband did when he died in 2015.
“Just like Frank, I believe she saw Jesus, and Jesus took her breath away,” Gifford said. “And it gives me great comfort.”
Hoda Kotb chimed in to help Kathie Lee Gifford pay tribute to Joan Epstein, saying that she was one of the bright lights she had ever met and that everyone at the Today Show loved her.
“We all fell madly in love because when she came in, humor followed,” Kotb said of Gifford’s mom. “…She would say something in the middle of a segment we had, and we would all break up in hysterics.”
Gifford agreed, saying that her mother had no idea how funny she was. The Today Show then ran a few clips of Epstein on set causing the whole crew to crack up. Gifford also shared a few more stories of her mother being funny, also talking about her immense love of breakfast.
Gifford said on the Today Show that she’s happy for her mother because she had no fear and her faith was so strong.
“There is hope,” Gifford said. “This world, this life, is not the end. It’s just the beginning. And the sooner you realize that, the more you realize what is in store for you.”
On Tuesday, Gifford paid tribute to her mother on Twitter, writing, “My precious mother, JOANNIE went home to JESUS & my DADDY this morning. We praise God for His promise of eternal life & we thank God for her.” The Instagram account for Gifford and Hoda posted a picture of Gifford with her mother and sent out thoughts and prayers. In addition, Hoda posted a photo of herself with Epstein on her personal Instagram account.