‘He was truly a special man’ -- Paul Gross reflects on legendary weatherman Willard Scott

Beloved weatherman had 65-year career at NBC

Local 4′s own Paul Gross knew Scott, meeting for the first time in 1980 when Paul was in New York City with his family. As a gift, Paul brought some of his mother’s homemade apricot strudel -- which he devoured and eagerly shared with his coworkers.
Local 4′s own Paul Gross knew Scott, meeting for the first time in 1980 when Paul was in New York City with his family. As a gift, Paul brought some of his mother’s homemade apricot strudel -- which he devoured and eagerly shared with his coworkers.

DETROIT – Willard Scott -- the man who presented the weather on “Today” for more than 30 years -- died Saturday. He was 87 years old.

Scott’s death was confirmed by Al Roker on Instagram.

More: Iconic ‘TODAY’ weather presenter Willard Scott dies at 87

Local 4′s own Paul Gross knew Scott. The two met for the first time in 1980, when Paul was in New York City with his family. As a gift, Paul brought some of his mother’s homemade apricot strudel -- which Scott devoured and eagerly shared with his coworkers.

About three years later, Paul was hired at Local 4 and met with Scott again.

“During that time, I had gotten contacts lenses and grown a mustache,” Paul recalled. “They’re giving him a tour of the building and he came into the weather office and looked at me. He gets this quizzical look on his face before he says, ‘Oh, my God, did you bring any?’ and I say ‘Bring what?’ and he says ‘Did you bring any of that strudel?’”

A few years later, Scott was in Detroit and doing a live segment from the Roostertail on the Detroit River and this time, Paul knew he was coming.

“I got my mom to make some of that strudel, brought it down to him and he went on to talk about my mom and rave about her strudel on national TV!” Paul said. “He loved my mom’s strudel.”

To Paul, there’s one story that truly shows off how good of a person Willard Scott was.

“As many of you know, he wore a toupee and back in the 1980s and early 1990s, he never took that toupee off. You never saw him without it. Back in 1989, I was going through a rough cancer battle and had lost all my hair and I was wearing a wig,” Paul recalled. “He was speaking at a luncheon in Detroit and I went up ahead of time to say hello to him. I told him I was going through cancer and that I was wearing a wig and he looked at me and pulled his toupee off and he said, ‘Hey, so am I!’”

Related: Paul Gross reflects on cancer milestone: 30 years since the lump

The gesture meant a lot to Paul.

“He didn’t do that publicly -- anywhere! He wanted me to feel better about the fact that I was going through what I was going through,” Paul said. “He did that in front of a whole lot of people. It just meant the world to me.”

You can watch Paul Gross’ full stories in the video player above.


About the Authors:

Local 4 meteorologist Paul Gross was born in Detroit and has spent his entire life and career right here in southeast Michigan. Paul has researched, written and produced eight half-hour documentaries for WDIV, as well as many science, historical and environmental stories.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.