"America has lost a devoted public servant and a man of character," President Bush says

By Kristin Boehm
Updated July 12, 2008 10:35 AM

Former White House press secretary Tony Snow died Saturday after a second battle with cancer. He was 53.

“The Snow family has lost a beloved husband and father. And America has lost a devoted public servant and a man of character,” President Bush said Saturday in a statement. “It was a joy to watch Tony at the podium each day.”

Snow, who had been undergoing chemotherapy treatments for a recurrence of the disease, which he spoke to PEOPLE in May 2007 about, served as press secretary from May 2006 to September 14, 2007. He then joined CNN as a conservative commentator.

“To find yourself the object of love of people you don’t know, that hits you. It’s incredibly moving,” Snow told PEOPLE of the outpouring of well-wishes he received.

“His dear family is in our thoughts and prayers,” White House press secretary Dana Perino, Snow’s successor, said. “The White House is so deeply saddened by this loss. He was a great friend and colleague and a fantastic press secretary.”

Snow was first treated for colon cancer in 2005, at which time his colon was removed. The recurrence of cancer found in March 2007 was attached to his liver, not inside it.

At the time, John Edwards said of Snow: “Tony has been an incredible example for people living with cancer and cancer survivors.”

Snow is survived by his wife, Jill, two daughters and a son.