Matt Lauer has a deep, personal connection to South Florida.
His father, Jay Robert Lauer, died in hospice care in Palm Beach Gardens in 1997. The former bicycle company executive was 75 and had lung cancer.
The following year, Lauer, who was fired as host of the “Today” show Wednesday amid allegations of inappropriate sexual contact with a subordinate, became the spokesman for Hospice of Palm Beach County Foundation.
Lauer, 59, has been very involved in raising money for the foundation over the years, appearing in ads, headlining annual galas and a golf tournament in his father’s name.
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In a 2010 interview with WPTV News, the married father of three talked about how hard it was to get donations.
“We’re living in a time when it’s very difficult time to raise money for charitable organizations,” Lauer said. “It’s a horrible thing, but it’s a reality.”
In 2011, the New York native also became a spokesman for Hospice of Broward County. He talked about how important hospice was to him and his family during such a tough time.
“We were watching my dad slip away but we were learning something about a group of people who were truly extraordinary at one of the most difficult times my family had ever been through,” said Lauer in the video. “I don’t think I really understood what the scope of hospice was all about. He was a total stranger, yet they treated him like a member of their family. They were there. They were there for my family and it’s something I’ll never forget.”
Lauer wasn’t as involved in recent years, but in May, he appeared in YouTube videos promoting renovations at Hospice by the Sea in Boca Raton.
On Wednesday afternoon, Trustbridge, the West Palm Beach company that operates three hospice centers that Lauer promoted, said it was severing ties with the newsman.
“We all learned the news this morning that Matt Lauer was terminated from the ‘Today Show’ after a complaint about ‘inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace’ by another employee,” reads the statement. “Trustbridge does not condone any type of inappropriate behavior in our workplace. We feel strongly that any representation of our brand should reflect our company values in every way. The Matt Lauer commercials will no longer be aired.”