Radio and television host Tony Snow, who breathed new life into the role of White House press secretary, died at 53 from complications of cancer:

Tony Snow, the former White House press secretary and conservative pundit who bedeviled the press corps and charmed millions as a FOX News television and radio host, has died after a long bout with cancer. He was 53.

A syndicated columnist, editor, TV anchor, radio show host and musician, Snow worked in nearly every medium in a career that spanned more than 30 years.

“The White House has lost a great friend and a great colleague,” said President Bush’s press secretary Dana Perino. “We all loved watching him at the podium, but most of all we learned how to love our families and treat each other.”

Snow joined FOX in 1996 as the original anchor of “FOX News Sunday” and hosted “Weekend Live” and a radio program, “The Tony Snow Show,” before departing in 2006. A sometime fill-in host for Rush Limbaugh, Snow said he loved the intimacy of his radio audience.

This weekend will bring many personal tributes, but allow me just a minor example.  At the 2004 Republican convention, when I had been blogging for less than a year, I was introduced to Tony almost accidentally.   I was shocked when he knew my blog, and maybe even more shocked at how he treated me — as a colleague, an equal in an arena where most of us bloggers felt like Cindarella among ten thousand stepsisters.

He wanted to interview me for his radio show, but he couldn’t work me in.  Instead, we chatted off the air for a while, and he impressed me as a man who absolutely loved his work.  His joy and his good humor shined through every word, as it did when he worked at the White House, and appeared on television and radio.  Viewers and listeners got the authentic Tony Snow; he didn’t build a false persona for public consumption.

When Tony told the world about his illness and took a leave of absence, I sent him an e-mail wishing him well.  I was only a little surprised to get a note back from him on his return, thanking me and complimenting me on my work.  By that time, I knew what kind of man Tony Snow was, and I hoped his return would mean many years of us enjoying his work as much as he did.  Alas, it was not in the cards.

My condolences and prayers go out to Tony’s family and friends.  We lost a good man and a class act. Godspeed, Tony.

Update: Brit Hume narrates a tribute to Tony’s career, this morning on Fox: