Buffalo — If you grew up in western New York from the 1960s to the 1990s, this might come as a shock.
WKBW Channel 7 weather forecaster and children’s show host Tom Jolls, also known as “Commander Tom,” has died, his family confirmed Wednesday.
he was 89 years old.
A native of Lockport, Jolls joined the television station in 1965. As a weather forecaster, he was part of a legendary anchor team that included newscaster Irv Weinstein and sportsman Rick Azar.
The trio were so popular and well-known in western New York and southern Ontario that they helped inspire actor Jim Carrey’s 2003 film Bruce Almighty.
Jolles was known for his outdoor weather forecasts and his “weather language,” which included the expression “salubrious,” meaning “healthy.”
He also had a 26-year career as the host of The Commander Tom Show for children, which in later years included cartoons about Davey and Goliath.
Jolles retired from WKBW in 1999.
“As a family, we couldn’t be more proud of his (Tom’s) illustrious television career,” Jolles’ family said in a statement released Wednesday night. “Better yet, he was an even better family man.
“Luckily for his short illness, he didn’t suffer too much and died at his bedside with his family.
“He (Tom) was a very shy and private person off the air, so we are celebrating his life with a private service just for his family.
“He will continue to be our commander. I wish his family, friends and fans all the best in life.”