NEW YORK — In an emotional return to “Today” on Monday, Kathie Lee Gifford had a message for fans of her late husband, Frank.
“We laughed up to the very end,” she said. “I just want everybody to know that this is a man who was at complete peace in his life. He might have been the happiest, most content person in the world at this point in his life.”
Legendary football player and sportscaster Frank Gifford died of natural causes on August 9 at the age of 84. Married 29 years, they had two children.
The “Today” star joined her co-host, Hoda Kotb, and talked of her husband growing up incredibly poor. He was a man of gratitude whose Christian faith grew even more in his final years, she said.
“His world got smaller as his God got bigger, and he’d want you to know that, that he died in complete peace,” she said. “He knew every sin he committed was forgiven.”
Gifford also shared the story of their visit to the Holy Land, where they stopped at the site where the Bible says David killed Goliath. There he acquired a special stone that became a treasured possession, she said.
“Frank would want you to do this today: If you see a stone today, pick it up and ask yourself, ‘What is my stone? What is my gift that I can use to make this world a better place?’ ” she said.
She expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support from the public and for the fact at her husband didn’t suffer toward the end of his life. He died at home, looking forward to their day together.
“I’m grateful that the Lord took him that way, because the only thing Frank had ever been afraid of in his entire life was being a burden to those he loved,” she said.
Gifford got choked up toward the end of the tribute but dissolved into tears after 5-year-old Heavenly Joy Jerkins sang the gospel tune “This Little Light of Mine” and dedicated it to her.
“I’ve held it together for a week,” Gifford cried.