Alan Colmes, host of the nationally syndicated “Alan Colmes Show” on Fox News Radio, has died after a brief illness. Colmes, a fixture on Fox News since the cable TV channel’s launch in 1996, was 66.

“America’s Newsroom” coanchor Bill Hemmer announced the news Thursday morning. The Fox News Channel program then aired a tribute from TV and radio personality Sean Hannity, his former cohost on “Hannity & Colmes.”

In a statement, Hannity called Colmes “one of life’s most decent, kind and wonderful people you’d ever want to meet. Alan, in the midst of great sickness and illness, showed the single greatest amount of courage I’ve ever seen,” Hannity said, as reported by Fox News.

Known for his turbocharged commentary and impassioned debates on Fox News Channel programs, Colmes addressed his recent absence from his radio show in a note to listeners on Jan. 30.

“As I previously mentioned on the show last year, there would be times I would be taking off from the show to deal with a medical issue. This is why I’ve been out recently and will be out this week as well. But I will be back taking your calls as soon as I can,” Colmes wrote.

Colmes is survived by his wife, Jocelyn Crowley, who issued the following statement to the Fox network:

“Alan Colmes passed away this morning after a brief illness. He was 66 years old. He leaves his adoring and devoted wife, Jocelyn Elise Crowley. He was a great guy, brilliant, hysterical and moral. He was fiercely loyal, and the only thing he loved more than his work was his life with Jocelyn. He will be missed. The family has asked for privacy during this very difficult time.”

Reaction to Colmes’ passing came swiftly on social media, in published tributes and in statements. “I had the privilege of sparring with Alan on many occasions over the years, and appreciated the sense of humor he brought to even the most spirited debates,” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said in a statement. “Always respectful, kind and courteous, Alan showed us all how to argue an opinion fiercely without sacrificing civility.”

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