After a year and a half of fighting against pancreatic cancer, the beloved Jeopardy presenter Alex Trebek died on Sunday. He was 80 years old. During most of his time on the show and throughout his illness his wife Jean Currivan Trebek was at his side.
According to People, Trebek Currivan, who was born in Canada, met Currivan in 1988 through a friend. By that time, Trebek had been hosting Jeopardy! for four years and had recently been divorced from his first wife, Elaine Callei. Currivan, meanwhile, worked for one of Trebek’s friends as a part-time accountant.
“It just happened with Jean,” Trebek wrote in his memoirs. Reflections On My Life. “Sometimes you look at something, you look at someone, and you know. I mean, you’ve heard stories of people meeting and deciding within half an hour; I knew this would be the person I would end up with. It was like that with Jeanie. I was not looking for love. But I realized on a gut level that there was someone here who would complete me as a human being”.
Despite the age difference of 24 years, they were attracted to each other and understood each other immediately. “He just had this deep sensitivity in him, with a rough exterior,” Currivan told people in January 2019, “I always thought he was 24 years older than me… but there was something that just kept drawing me back to him.
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“At first this worried me,” Trebek had also told people in 1990. “But then I thought: ‘The hell with it. We’ll work it out.'”
In 1990, years later, they were married in Los Angeles. They have two children, Matthew and Emily. “They are both very compassionate, sensitive people. They really are the best of Alex and me. You can talk to them. They are our good friends,” Currivan enthused about them in January 2019.
Currivan is a native New Yorker, professional sound healer, Reiki Master and practitioner of Religious Science and works at the North Hollywood Church of Religious Science. In November 2019 she spoke to SurvivorNet about her religious beliefs.
“It’s really about self-love. We could say ‘Universal Spirit’, ‘Infinite Intelligence’, ‘God’, ‘Jesus’, ‘Abraham’, … or if you don’t have a religious background, you could even call it gardening,” Currivan said. “It really boils down to being kind to life and fellow human beings and having compassion for each other’s journey”.
She also spoke about her husband’s diagnosis and how they navigated the news. “It comes from a place of love because I want to lift him up… and if I keep myself going and enjoy my life, I can actually share that with him,” she told the publication. “He can look at me and have a feeling of ‘life is beautiful, my wife is doing something good’.
Trebek was eternally grateful for Curran’s support during his fight against pancreatic cancer. “It has kept me alive,” Trebek told people in 2019 when he spoke about his cancer diagnosis. “If it wasn’t for Jean, I would have stayed out of it a long time ago.”
He also said that he wished he had had more time with Currivan. “My wife Jean and I have been together for almost 29 years and I thought about President [George H.W.] Bush when he died and all the comments about his life, what a nice guy he is and how he and his wife had been together for 73 years. I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, if I hadn’t met Jean until I was 20, we could have had a longer life together’.
Trebek added, “If I had met her at 20, she probably wouldn’t have been born yet. But hey, 29 years is pretty good!